As garbage in these buildings is not collected for weeks and continues piling up, it’s people like Deepak and his family who suffer silently.

Have no option Apartment caretakers in Bluru locality must live near residents trashDeepak and his family must live near 15 days worth of trash
news Civic issues Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 13:10

Deepak has been working as a caretaker in a residential building in New Thippasandra, Bengaluru for five years. He lives in a small one room lodging in the parking area with his wife and four-year-old son, Ravinder.

For the past fortnight, Deepak and his family have been facing a problem which has made their day to day lives difficult. A few feet away from his room are two drums where the eight flats of the building dispose their trash. But since the trash has not been collected for over two weeks now, the drums have overflowed and the trash bags line a significant area around the drums. 

“People who live here shut their doors and sleep. They don’t face an issue. But I live here. The street dogs here are also aggressive and come to dig in the trash. It has started stinking also. It doesn’t matter to the residents if my child is bitten by a dog or if he falls sick,” Deepak rues. 

Deepak and his family live in a humble one bedroom accommodation in the parking space 

That Bengaluru’s pourkarmikas have not been paid their salaries in months together has been highlighted several times in the media. Hundreds of pourakarmikas went on strike earlier this month demanding their rightful salary.

It also does not help that truckers and contractors are also miffed with the BBMP’s allegations of them raising false bills and have threatened to strike. And while the BBMP holds its meetings and negotiates with stakeholders, people like Deepak must suffer. Because, in his words, it’s “his fate”.

Also read: Uma has been cleaning Bengaluru for 24 yrs, she hasn’t been paid a rupee for 6 months

A little further from where Deepak lives is another caretaker, Surinder. He too, lives with his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, in a one room lodging in the parking lot. “No one has come to pick up the trash for about three weeks,” Surinder says, pointing to the drums full of garbage bags and the trash strewn just a few feet away from his room. 

He also tries to limit the insects and odour by cleaning the area around with phenyl and sprinkling some insecticide. But there is only so much he can do when the pile keeps growing every day.

The trash near Surinder's room

For Akhil, another caretaker, his mornings begin with covering his face and nose with a cloth and sweeping the parking space to move the littered trash to one side, as far away from his room as possible. This is all the caretaker can do when confronted with the ‘not in my backyard’ mentality of Bengaluru’s middle class when it comes to the garbage they generate. 

Akhil has been working there for three years now. He admits that his three-and-half year old daughter falls sick often but is not sure if it is because of the dirt and piling garbage near them.

“The stench does get unbearable at times… mosquitoes also come. But I am a poor man and this is my life. I just keep sweeping it all to one side and hope that it will be enough to protect me and my family. I don’t let my daughter play here either,” Akhil says. 

Akhil begins his day by sweeping the trash to one side

The closest proximity to overflowing garbage is perhaps that of Biswajit, who has been working in a building in New Thippasandra for five years now. The trash cans are placed barely five feet away from his room and are full to the brim. The smell of rotting food is hard to ignore as we stand and talk near his room.

“This is such a common problem here madam,” he says. “A lot of times they don’t come to collect the garbage for 3-4 days. Sometimes if he comes also, he will not take the garbage fully because the auto to transport it is not there. And if we scold them, then they will not come at all.”

Biswajit's room is right next to where the garbage drums are kept, and often overflow

He adds, like Deepak, Akhil and Surinder, that repeated calls from him as well as the building residents to the BBMP as well as BWSSB have yielded no results.

And while the flies do come into Biswajit’s tiny room from the window and he fears falling sick, his solace is a tree near the same trash cans that cause him misery. “You see that neem tree there? I keep chewing its leaves. It’s probably what protects me from sickness even though our living conditions are so close to dirt and muck,” he says. “We are poor and we have lived like this all our lives. This is no different.”

It helps, however, that Biswajit lives by himself and does not have a family to care for. For people like Deepak, this isolates him even more from the upper classes he works for. “No one has come to ask if I am facing issues because of their garbage. They have been collecting it very irregularly for the last few months. Maybe he (the man who picks the garbage) has gone to his hometown for someone’s funeral or maybe he wants to kill us. Anyway no one will care,” Deepak says.

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