Waste-side story

Waste-side story

It is the City’s biggest nightmare. With rising piles of garbage across town, Bangalore is now on the brink of saturation with added pressure on landfills and age-old technologies to dispose the waste. Political apathy following elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP),  coupled with lack of interest and knowledge among the Palike officials have meant the citizens have no respite from this menace. Looming constantly is the threat posed by the garbage mafia. 

The BBMP had in 2007 divided the City limits to implement a package system for garbage contracts. Under this system, the contractors were given the responsibility to clear garbage from the areas designated under the packages. The garbage was to be then lifted from these areas and transported to the land fills located on the outskirts of the City. The City was divided into 18 such packages, each of which was to cost an exorbitant Rs 7.11 crore, to be paid to the contractor for his services.

However, lack of supervision and the urge of ‘cutting corners’ saw the garbage contractors milk the Palike of its revenue without any results. The filth just kept piling up in the nearby vacant sites of every area, with contractors trying to save on the manpower and fuel costs.

Manohar Pari, a former Congress corporator, recalls that the system was such that even the Palike committed blunders by shifting the responsibility of supervising the garbage collection from the Health Department to the Engineering division. “The result was complete chaos as none of the engineers from the Palike were present for the supervision,” he says.

Pari alleges that the system brought in a lot of defects including the collusion of the ward engineers with the contractors for turning a blind eye towards the garbage collection. This eventually led to the rise of the garbage mafia, which still continues to operate and is all set to devour the City.

While Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had in December 2009 promised to clear the garbage mafia and provide a transparent system, the BBMP is still trying to find the ‘best possible’ solution.

Under the regime of the former BBMP Commissioner, Bharat Lal Meena, the Palike had introduced a novel and much-appreciated system of having a ‘Zero Garbage’ agenda on a pilot basis in Gandhinagar and then extend it to the Malleswaram constituency. However, the system seemed to have faltered with the formation of the BBMP Council. The Council appears to have set aside the system and now continues to ‘encourage’ the garbage mafia.

Ward 31, Kushalnagar, a densely populated area with lower and lower middle class families, is one glaring example of the dereliction of duty by the BBMP leaving the area in disarray. The area corporator, Noor Jahan Sharieff believes that there is complete apathy among the officials in providing relief to the ward despite repeated efforts by her to bring the mismanagement to the notice of the Palike.

She says, “We have appealed to the Council to extend zero garbage facility to our ward, but no response has been received. We also asked the garbage contractors to be more regular in clearing the area of the filth and they give excuses that are incomprehensible,” she rues.

Old package system continues

Currently, Bangalore still persists with the old package system by renewing the same tenders for the interim period, although most contracts have expired. The BBMP officials state that there is total lack of co-ordination among the officials and the political regime at the Palike.

 When Deccan Herald contacted the Chief Engineer responsible for the Solid Waste Management (SWM), Rangaraj, he excused himself from answering the questions since his more knowledgeable Executive Engineer (EE) was  not available. 

Sources reveal that the BBMP is now contemplating introducing a three-tier system of garbage clearance that would be strictly outsourced after tenders. There are also proposals to install garbage convertors across the City to process the wet waste into compost after segregating the garbage into wet and dry waste.

A special meeting has also been called by the Mayor S K Nataraj and the ruling party on November 12 or 13 to discuss the garbage woes in the City.

While there are no dearth of discussions to rid the City of the garbage menace, implementation on the management front seems to have been at its lowest by the BBMP. Whether solutions would emerge after the meeting of the public representatives on the issue, only time will tell.

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