Electronic City residents allege that the solid waste management plant is causing severe health problems.

Shut down solid waste management plant Blurus Electronic City residents protest
news Civic Issues Saturday, December 29, 2018 - 15:28

Electronic City, notorious for its flyover that perpetually sees bumper to bumper traffic, has a larger issue to deal with - garbage. On Saturday, residents of Doddanagamangala and Chikkanagamangala, located in Electronic City Phase 2, sat down in protest outside the local solid waste management plant.

Angry residents demanded that BBMP shut down the plant alleging that it was causing severe health-related problems. “People always have a cough and cold. Over 6,000 families in the area are suffering daily because of the plant. People have developed skin allergies and our children’s immunity levels are low. All the doctors we have consulted tell us that it is because of the area we live in,” says Pranay Dubey, a resident of Chikkanagamangala.

The problem

Bengaluru’s civic body - the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s apathy towards garbage management is well known to its residents.

In 2005, the BBMP had set up a landfill to dump the city's waste in Mandur, a village located in Bengaluru's suburbs. For over a decade, the city's trash was dumped there, leading to its residents developing various diseases. A study conducted by the Environment Support Group shows that the level of contamination was so high that it had even affected the babies that were born in the area. After massive protests, the BBMP shut down the plant. The case in Mandur brought the BBMP's laxity in garbage management to the fore. In 2015, the Karnataka High Court issued guidelines for solid waste management. 

It was after this that the BBMP decided to install composting units to manage the city’s waste. One such plant was the Chikkanagamangala solid waste management plant. Established in 2015, the plant has a capacity to compost 500 metric tonnes of garbage. While it was shut soon after it was established, the BBMP reopened the plant in March 2018.

However, like most of the composting units in the city, the one is Chikkanagamangala is dysfunctional. Videos available with TNM show that instead of composting the wet waste, the BBMP is allegedly receiving mixed waste and burning them inside the plant’s premises.

“The garbage smell is always present. When you’re travelling along Huskur Road towards Chikkanagamangala, the area is green and clean. You will know you have entered the area as soon as the smell hits you. We want the plant to shut down,” Pranay says.

The smell of garbage and burnt garbage is so strong throughout the day that it is a perpetual reminder of the problem.

Mixed waste

Odour nuisance associated with the waste management plant is occurring mainly due to waste handling, dumping, containment of odorous material in the windrow pads, tipping area and leachate collection area of the plant.

These release methane gas, which is leading to the foul odour. Methane (greenhouse gas) in its gas form is an asphyxiant, toxic gas which reduces or displaces the normal oxygen concentration in breathing air.

“Mixed waste is being brought into the plant. The plant is meant to compost wet waste. Because there is mixed waste and the processing units cannot handle it, it is being burnt,” a BBMP official said.

According to the Karnataka High Court directions of 2015, centralized waste processing units with mixed waste must not be set up. The court had instructed BBMP to decentralise waste segregation and had mandated all residents to do the segregation of dry and wet waste at home.

Collecting, processing and dumping of mixed waste is against the SWM Rules of 2016, and the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act which mandates segregation at source. Setting up such plants contradicts the stand of the government on the implementation of the ward micro plan, operation of dry waste collection centers and the setting up of ward-level processing facilities.

“Compost from mixed waste plants is highly toxic due to heavy metal contamination and cannot be used for agricultural purposes. The KCDC is selling this toxic compost to farmers. BBMP is doing all this without consulting the residents,” Pranay alleges.

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