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Garbage dump makes pariahs out of Mavallipura residents

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore, July 3, 2012, DHNS: 1:55 IST

Killer landfill: Large-scale contamination leads to health hazards

Eye sore:  The Mavallipura landfill near Yelahanka.  DH Photo
Feasting dogs, scavenging crows and kites dot the three-kilometre dirt trail that leads to the settlement in Mavallipura, Bangalore’s official dump yard, a sea of plastic bags, batteries, shoes, tyres, discarded clothes and rotting food that decays in the sun and floats during the rains.

The stink of garbage, which for many Bangaloreans is a vague, indistinct smell, is unmistakable and overwhelming for Mavallipura’s occupants.

Although the settlement is about two kilometre from the actual dump yard, the smoke from burning of the garbage, the hydrocarbon, travel farther--all the way into the bedrooms of the people, get mixed in their lake and infect their cattle and children indiscriminately. As indiscriminately as the garbage is dumped without segregation.

And with the number of tractors and trucks visiting the landfill increasing with the growing population of Bangalore, the people of Mavallipura are being looked upon as outcasts. “...We don’t want your water is what even my relatives say. So you don’t have to feel awkward,” Anjanappa, a resident, said.

Relatives are slowly distancing themselves from people here, reducing the frequency of their visits, making short trips even when they do visit for festivals or mourning.
Brides, relatives shun away

“We even don’t get brides for our boys here. People just refuse to confirm the alliance after a visit to our place,” said Vinoda, a mother of two children.

Satyanarayana, who works with a private firm in Yelahanka and an eligible bachelor said:
“I have myself been a victim of families refusing to send their daughters here and there are many more in our village like me.” Villagers echoed his view. “...The more people know about this, the less they want us,” another villager said.

It is found that 3,000 tonnes of waste is dumped in Mavallipura per day, drowning the settlement in Bangalore’s unscientific garbage disposal plan. And, this is only set to grow.

“My brother, who moved to Devanahalli a few years ago does not bring his children here. His wife is constantly worried about them and even her falling ill,” Vinoda said, complaining about how repeated representations to the government have turned futile.

But it is not as simple for people living here. Not only there is there no vacant piece of land immune but the smoldering landfill is also slowly turning their lands barren due to chemicals in the waste.

Doors are shut

As the day stretches into its last leg, the clattering of windows become obvious in Mavallipura, doors are shut, children are packed inside as smoke of repellents of many kinds fill the houses.

Water is not potable, vegetables are not edible, and in the evenings, the time the monstrous dump trucks come to feed dogs and crows, houses are not livable, air not breathable. As the government and its various wings struggle to decide whether Bangalore’s waste should be burnt or buried, Mavallipura is walking the path of irreversible damage, slowly turning untouchable.

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