Erratic collection; villagers near quarry pit fall sick

BBMP dumping yard at Bellali village near Kannuru on Bengaluru outskirt on Wednesday. Photo by Janardhan B K

Thousands of tons of garbage goes untreated without segregation to the quarry pits. Why has segregation not taken off in a big way, what stops residents from separating the wet waste for composting? Are the pourakarmikas to blame? DH takes a deep dive into different localities to find out.

The Palike workers do not wait even for five minutes when they come to pick up the waste, notes Rosemary T, a private company administrative staffer in Ejipura. The garbage maintenance is very poor in the area, she laments.

The pourakarmikas, she complains, demand Rs 20 to 50 if the garbage volume is more. “They do not clean the road properly. They don’t pick up the garbage that falls from the garbage trolley they bring to collect the waste,” he adds.

Mamtha, a dentist notes that garbage segregation at source is extremely critical today. “With growing population, it is important that dry waste and wet waste are separated. Many residents welfare associations have already demonstrated how this is done.”

In Shanthinagar, the collection methods have evolved beyond segregation. “Dry and wet waste are collected separately on consecutive days. The Shanthinagar residents welfare association has taken a wonderful initiative in monitoring this. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to maintain the surroundings clean and dispose the garbage aptly. Cleanliness is godliness,” says Mamtha.

On behalf of the Shanthinagar ward corporator, P Sowmya Shivakumar, her husband says: “We have come up with a concept called ‘2 Bin in 1 Bag’ system to collect wet waste and dry waste separately. The bins have been distributed to more than 6,000 middle class households. We have also conducted a workshop regarding this concept.”

But not everyone is convinced. Residents in other areas complain that although dry and wet waste are collected separately, half of the garbage is left at the collection point. The garbage workers do not take back the waste that spills over.

This is one reason why garbage black spots have mushroomed across the city. Stray dogs, house flies and mosquitoes hover over these spots. Interior designer Sridhar J points out, “The roads are not cleaned properly in my area. I keep traveling all over the city and find garbage in many places.”

Indeed, there are a few wards where segregation, proper collection and even composting of wet waste locally has taken off. But in many wards, this system has been compromised.

Says Purushothaman, a resident of Austin Town, “The BBMP has kept two huge dustbins in our lane, one for wet waste and another for dry waste. But the waste is dumped together. We have complained several times but they are least bothered.”

During rainy season, the scene only gets messier. “We cannot stay in peace because of the bad smell. The pourakarmikas don’t clean the roads properly. People from nearby areas also come and dump their garbage here,” he adds.

The general apathy has meant the woes of villagers living near the quarry pits, where the garbage is dumped in truckloads, are too distant. For most citizens within the city, the issue is about garbage collection from their doorsteps.

But the stink has hit the roof in Bellahalli and other localities around the quarry pits filled with the city’s waste. The leachate at the bottom of these pits have polluted the ground water. The villagers are now forced to wait before water vending machines.

Says Muniswamy, a daily wager from the area: The stench from the quarry pits is terrible. “Our hard earned money is now going to the doctors every month. My two kids have fallen sick. The authorities are least concerned about what is happening to the village,” he laments.

Echoing his state is Rathnamma, who works as a domestic maid in an apartment: “I was suffering from viral fever and headache because of the smell and mosquitoes. The stench gets unbearable during early morning hours,” she notes.

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