Mandur residents' ire rages on

Mandur residents' ire rages on

4 fire tenders make 20 trips to control the blaze sans local support

Mandur residents' ire rages on

A thick cloud of smoke billows out in the air and spreads across Mandur near here, as the fire in the garbage heaps refuses to die down despite Monday's downpour. In the last 24 hours, four fire tenders made 20 trips to douse the fire.

“I haven't seen a fire like this in my career. Don't know what kind of fire this is,” babbles a fire fighter as he prepares for the next trip to fetch water from the nearest fire station.

There is no local support to the fire fighters to extinguish fire. In fact, the fire is said to be the handiwork of local villagers who are up in arms against the landfill in their vicinity.

The protest is not unfounded. Mandur has earned notoriety for releasing nauseating stench, which could be felt five kilometre away from the village. This sleepy village was known for producing the best quality of mango and Bangalore Blue grapes till the BBMP chose it to dump Bangalore’s municipal solid waste.

The Palike has been dumping nearly 2,000 tonnes of garbage daily till the protest broke out against it. The three-year-old struggle by the local residents against the dumping yard got an edge recently when the Mavallipura landfill was shut down following an administrative order by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board  (KSPCB).

The rage which started from Mavallipura reached Terra Firma landfill on Doddaballapur Road where the villagers dug up the road to stop dumping garbage. After the closure of the two landfills, Mandur was the last hope for the Palike to keep the City clean, which too crashed on Monday with the vehement protests gutting the municipal solid waste processing plant. The company estimates the loss at Rs 80 crore. A company official requesting anonymity said the fire burnt down at least three lakh tonnes of reduced derived fuel, the value of which is estimated at Rs 20 crore.

“The fuel generated from the municipal solid waste (MSW) was to be used to generate 8 MW power. Had it been commissioned, Bangalore would have been the first City in South India to generate power from MSW. The loss is much more than what you are seeing here,” the officer lamented. He squarely blamed media for the garbage problem in the City.

But Chandrashekar, a Grama Panchayat member, rubbishes the allegation. “These landfills have made our lives miserable. It is only now that our movement is getting attention, otherwise our voices were suppressed by people in power,” says Chandrashekar.