Over a hundred angry residents of Kaggalipura in greater Bengaluru took to the streets in protest on Saturday morning, after their pleas to local authorities fell on deaf ears.
The residents allege that a huge pile of unsegregated waste from 11 nearby BBMP wards has been burnt in the locality every day. This, they say, poses a major health hazard to children, the elderly and to those already suffering from breathing difficulties.
Residents also allege that unclaimed bodies are also sometimes burnt along with the waste.
The residue after the garbage is burned is buried in the same location, due to which both the air and groundwater in the area are contaminated.
â€śWe are being denied the right to breathe clean air, which is an extension of the right to life. The panchayat is committing three sins here. Firstly, they are dumping mixed waste. Secondly, they are fumigating it, as a result of which there are carcinogens in the air. Thirdly, they are burying it in the ground,â€ť a protester said.
â€śWe are being told lies. We were told that this would stop and this is not the panchayat but some miscreants lighting the waste. Why would miscreants come to the same place and burn garbage?â€ť another protester asked.
On Saturday morning, the protesters - wearing surgical masks and holding placards - formed a human chain around the waste and marched to the Kaggalipura Gram Panchayat office, where they submitted a petition to the Panchayat Development Officer.
â€śThe PDO told us that by April, the whole area will be covered with a shed and a proper waste segregation centre would be set up. But, how can they do this in the vicinity of a residential area?â€ť the protester questioned.
The residents have already petitioned Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the Home Minister, the Pollution and Environmental departments and also the Panchayat, but have been met with silence.
"We will not stop at this. If this does not stop, we will intensify our protests," a protester said.
Other than the issue of burning garbage, residents also pointed out that a large section of the land where garbage is being dumped used to be a lake. They also allege that the Panchayat is allowing mud to be stolen from the lakebed.