Plastic waste threatens Vrishabhavati, chokes residents

Residents living along the Vrishabhavati stream complain about illegal plastic segregation units that have been setting fire to plastic waste and leaving the area under thick carpet of smog. A few have even alleged that the units have encroached on the river course of Vrishabhavati. | DH Photo: Pushkar V

Defeating citizens’ efforts to revive the Vrishabhavati 'River', several plastic waste segregation and washing units that have popped up along its banks in Kumbalgodu gram panchayat are polluting the water and air. While these units are operating within coconut groves of Kambipura and other villages for over six months now, the burning of plastic waste has made life hell for locals who are now rallying against these units.

The unchecked burning of plastic waste is not only releasing carcinogenic pollutants into the air but has also left the region dotted with upscale gated communities and ultra-modern luxury apartment complexes under a thick carpet of nauseating smog leaving the residents choked.

Two days ago, residents of GoodEarth Malhar — a gated community in Kambipura village — complained to the Kumbalgodu gram panchayat about the menace.

A resident of the community told DH that for over two months they have been watching increased activity in the area. "We have noticed several trucks and tractors carrying plastic waste and dumping them on the banks of the river. While they wash the plastic in chemicals and leave it to dry in the sun during the day, the segregated waste is set afire past midnight. The area gets engulfed with thick smog in the wee hours leaving us suffocating," a resident, who has also signed the complaint, explained. The residents have also launched an online petition against the menace.

On Saturday too a few workers were drying the washed plastic, that appeared to have been supplied from a packaging industry in the city, while the waste and discarded plastic was set afire at a distance. Several sacks of plastic filled with hazardous waste are dumped into the river along the stretch.

A researcher from Bangalore Environment Trust which has been fighting a legal battle to save Vrishabhavati said, "Most of these units have come up on revenue land and concealed deep inside the orchard or agricultural land. It is difficult to spot them. But according to NGT directions, setting up such units along the river course is illegal. Also, no act or policy allows burning of plastic waste. This is entirely illegal and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) must crack the whip."

When DH reached out to Kumbalgod gram panchayat president Chikkaraju, he said, "I am not aware of any such activities. If the residents bring it to my notice, I will definitely initiate an action." However, G B Basavaraju, the panchayat development officer (PDO) acknowledged that he has received a complaint from the Good Earth Malhar residents about the dumping and burning of waste.

"I have already deputed our secretary to the spot to inspect and submit a report. The units are found to be illegal and we have asked them to vacate the area by Sunday. If they fail to comply with our direction, we will file a criminal complaint against them,"Basavaraju said. Manju B N, a bill collector with the Kumbalgod panchayat said he has seen workers setting fire to the waste at these units. "When we interrogate them, they say some outsiders light the fire and disappear. I have asked the workers to keep a watch on vehicles and alert us with their numbers as and when they arrive," he revealed.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)