news Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | June 25, 2014 | 2.30 pm IST

This is the third report in a series of stories about children who are affected by endosulfan pesticide in Kerala and the waste dumping in a landfil in Mandur village outside Bangalore.

Children in Mandur do everything that other children do, play, chase each other around, are shy and fight. But they also fall sick a lot. “Because of the smell”, the villagers say.

Mandur has been Bangalore’s dump yard for almost a decade. After an agreement between the Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore Rural district and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), a landfill was created in the village to dump garbage and generate compost from the waste. Villagers say they haven’t caught a whiff of manure. The only thing they have seen and smelled, is the stench of the piling garbage, which has only grown higher and higher. 

According to the villagers, the foul, putrid stench of garbage that is several years old, first affects the throat of small children starting with a cough, which then turns into fever. Many children get a fever as frequently as once a month, women say.

Speaking to The News Minute, Shashikala S Pawar, of the Maratha community, says her one-and-a-half-year-old son Chetas sometimes gets a fever every month. His temperature can go up to 103 degrees Fahrenheit some times, she says.

When she delivered the baby, she had to return home to Mandur, which is just over 20 km from the state Capital. Both her parents and her in-laws live in Mandur. Women from other villages who marry men from Mandur, often stay at their parents’ houses for a few months after the baby is born. This has been the general trend in the last few years.

Ambikabai (27) has a six-year-old son Sharath. She says fever, cough, loose motion are very common among young children.

Lahiri an Upper Kindergarten student was down with fever just last week and had to miss school for two days. Her neighbour Sushruth, also in her class, says that he had missed school for five days. He said he would go to the hospital every day and come back home. 

Srinivas Gowda, a resident of the village says that depending on the direction of the wind, some days are more bearable than others. However, the children of the Narayana International School get no respite because it is the building that is closest to the dump yard. 

Tejas Gowda, studying in Class XI, said that despite keeping the windows and doors closed, they cannot keep out the smell. It becomes difficult to eat in the canteen, he says. A friend of his had to move to a school in Cheemasandra, 7 km away because the stench became unbearable. 

But despite all the problems, they have to put up with it, as Kasturibai (34) says: “We have built houses here. Where can we go?”

And so, Kasturi, Ambika, and Shashikala, and everybody else in the village, continue to put up with stench and the mosquitoes and flies. Not silently of course. They have made their protests loud and clear. Finally, the Chief Minister has given them an assurance that in five months dumping will be gradually stopped.

Ironically, the road that leads to the dump yard is beautiful. Trees line either side of the broad asphalted road, providing shade. Picture perfect, except for the stench. But the smell cannot be reproduced in a photograph anyway.

Read the previous reports in this series here:

Endosulfan children - Living on a prayer: How Mani survived, got into IIT and wants to win 

Endosulfan Children: Poisoned and Blinded, They Sing and Laugh at Life 

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