Voices Friday, June 06, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth| The News Minute | May 28, 2014 | 8.20 am IST After putting up with 400 lorries dumping garbage in their village every day, the villagers of Mandur have had enough. Mandur is a village outside Bangalore and has been for the last nine years, the dumping ground for the state capital’s garbage. Since then, almost every day, lorries roll in to the village from all across the city and dump waste in a 169-acre plot following an agreement between the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and the district administration of Bangalore Urban. Now however, villagers say, the pollution from the landfill has become too much to bear. Mandur Gram Panchayat member Rakesh Gowda (41) says that the people of Mandur and surrounding villages will not allow lorries to dump their unwanted cargo in their village from June 1. That is when the deadline given to the BBMP for resolving the problem expires. In 2012, the city had literally come to a standstill as villagers from Mandur and Mavalipura (another landfill location) went on a strike, disallowing garbage dumping. Mounds of garbage were found in every nook and corner of the city with garbage collectors dumping the 5000 odd tonnes of garbage generated by the city daily, just about everywhere. Panchayat Secretary Veeregowda says that last year, after a meeting with the Chief Minister, the BBMP had agreed to resolve the problem and “dispose of the waste in a scientific manner”. That deadline expires at the end of May. Health concerns There are houses within 500 metres of the landfill and they face the brunt of the problems that the landfill has created. For one, the whole village is enveloped with a foul smell, making it difficult to breathe. Gowda says that the water also has a strange smell and that farmers have also faced problems because of this. More worrying for the villagers he says is a more palpable danger. He claims that there are hundreds of dogs living off the waste in the landfill and often, they roam the village at night in packs of 50 or 60. The dogs have on occasion attacked cattle for food. Villagers have seen an increase in skin and respiratory allergies. Gowda says that although a “medicine” was supposed to be sprayed to control the smell, the person appointed was not carrying out his job. Mandur Gram Panchayat Secretary Veeregowda said that the Chief Minister’s assurance of disposing the landfill’s waste in a scientific manner was close to expiry. He said that last year, in a meeting with the Chief Minister, the latter had asked for a year’s time for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and Srinivasa Gayathri Resource Recovery Limited to clear the waste scientifically from the landfill. “But this was a part of the original agreement between the Deputy Commissioner (of Bangalore Urban district) and the BBMP. They were supposed to produced compost manure and electricity, but they have done neither,” Veeregowda says. Pollution He said that although the private company had been given a No Objection Certificate from the panchayat when the landfill was first set up in 2005, the panchayat had not renewed its NOC in subsequent years. “They have applied, but we have not approved the NOC, because the pollution is high. The water from borewells has become dirty,” Veeregowda says. Senior Environment Officer at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board Venkatesh first said that the plant was not required to take annual NOCs from the pancahayat. When asked about the panchayat’s refusal to give the NOC on account of high pollution levels, Venkatesh said that the KSPCB was considering action and that if this correspondent called back after three or four days, he would be in a position to say what action had been taken against the landfill. In the last two years, the villagers have protested several times by refusing to let the garbage trucks unload the waste. During one prolonged protest two years ago, residents of Bangalore got a taste of what it felt like to be surrounded by rubbish all the time when the villagers of Mandur and Mavallipura stopped the trucks. Two weeks ago also, the residents of Mandur had stopped lorries for a few days to register their protest. This had led to a lot of focus on the Kasamuktha project or a project aimed at making Bangalore garbage-free. The idea is to segregate waste at source (wet and dry) and handle it separately. While wet waste was to be used for composting, dry waste was sent to dry waste collection centres and given for recycling. Only the remaining non-recyclable waste is sent to landfills. Citizen Matters, a web portal had done a reality check on the Kasamuktha project. Read- Garbage-free Bengaluru? Nope, not yet! With projects, plans and policies failing to solve Bangalore's garbage problem, and as villagers in Mandur plan to go on strike again, the Garden city needs to get prepared to being called Garbage city once again.

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