Villagers say no to garbage, Bengaluru set to stink

Villagers park tractors on the road to prevent garbage trucks from entering the quarry at Bellahalli in Bengaluru.

A flash protest by villagers around the Bellahalli quarry — BBMP’s landfill on the outskirts of Bengaluru — for the last two days has pushed the city closer to a major garbage crisis.

A complete blockade of the road by villagers leading to the quarry has not only stranded more than 250 garbage trucks on the streets, but has also affected door-to-door garbage collection across the city.

Unable to bear the stink and fearing environmental hazards stemming from the landfill, the villagers have been protesting since Monday night. Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Bellahalli told DH that the BBMP has been illegally dumping mixed waste at the quarry for the past three years.

“The abandoned quarry has already been filled to the brim and topped with debris. There are hardly any measures to eliminate the foul smell and prevent the leachate from seeping into the groundwater and water bodies,” he complained. Though the BBMP had commissioned a leachate treatment plant near the quarry, it is not fully operational, according to villagers. 

BBMP officials who visited the dumping site said, “The compactors were pelted with stones in the wee hours of January 22. As tension mounted, around 350 trucks returned without dumping garbage. While we managed to dump around 250 truckloads of garbage on January 23, the villagers blocked the road by parking tractors on it.

Since Wednesday night, not a single truck has entered the quarry and all of them have been parked on the road. If the situation continues for another couple of days, it would be worse than the 2012 crisis.” 

Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner of solid waste management is in New Delhi to appear before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) where the mater related to dumping of garbage was listed on Thursday. Sources in the BBMP told DH that Khan is expected to meet the protesting villagers on Friday. 

Meanwhile, BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said that talks are on with the villagers and was hopeful of resolving the situation. “We have sent a proposal to the state government identifying other stone quarries for dumping. If the government approves it, we will start dumping garbage in these quarries,” he explained. 

Politics over quarries 

The two quarries, adjacent to each other, are not only environmental hazards due to unscientific garbage disposal but have been active centres of bitter politics. While one quarry comes under the limits of Mittiganahalli, the other comes under Bellahalli. Following a Supreme Court stay over dumping in the quarry at Mittiganahalli, the BBMP began dumping mixed waste at the Bellahalli quarry. Sources in BBMP revealed that the quarry at Mittiganahalli belongs to a BJP supporter and the Bellahalli quarry was taken over by the government from a Congress supporter a few years ago.

NGT upset with BBMP

The NGT had on October 22, 2018 directed the BBMP to deposit Rs 5 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one month. Subsequently, the NGT directed the CPCB to clean up the mess created by BBMP officials at the stone quarry and take up bio-mining. Though the BBMP challenged the order before the SC, the apex court dismissed the petition and sent it back to the NGT.

The matter was posted for hearing on Thursday and the NGT expressed displeasure over BBMP's action. It also dismissed its submission and directed it comply with its earlier order within two weeks, failing which adverse action may be considered against the officials, the tribunal noted. 

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Villagers say no to garbage, Bengaluru set to stink

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