'Garbage mafia sabotaging reforms'

'Garbage mafia sabotaging reforms'

The powerful garbage contractors in the City are out to sabotage the BBMP’s reforms for garbage disposal, Palike officials say.

Officials say the contractors, who had so far had a stranglehold over the lucrative business of garbage disposal, are worried over the growing awareness among citizens about the segregation-at-source and other initiatives of the BBMP to recycle waste within the City, and are out to defeat the reforms. Some of them are dumping waste lifted from one part of the City to other prominent places. On Wednesday night, a truckload of filth was dumped near the St Marks Cathedral on MG Road, leaving the church authorities furious.

The heap of garbage comprised plastic bags, polythene covers, vegetable waste and jute sacks with meat and bones packed in it. In the morning, stray dogs and cattle were seen rummaging through the garbage mound. Samuel Mohan, the secretary of the Cathedral, said, “Dumping of garbage near the church is atrocious.”

He felt that some “vested interests” were behind the incident who wanted to derail the BBMP's move of disposing the garbage locally.

An employee of the cathedral told Deccan Herald that garbage clearance has come to a halt in all the major business zones of the City, including Church Street, MG Road and Residency Road. Long stretches of uncleared garbage off the back gate of Baldwin’s Boys’ School near Johnson Market was tellingly one of the many dumping spots.

BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel said he was not aware of the garbage dumped near the cathedral. He admitted that there were some vested interests trying to subvert the reforms relating to waste.

While the BBMP now sees the segregated wet waste as ‘black gold’, the garbage mafia had realised it much earlier. Over the last six years, the garbage business in the City has been worth close to Rs 430 crore annually. Under the guise of transporting garbage to landfills, politicians, contractors and officers made hundreds of crores of rupees. The nexus was exposed in 2008 when a Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force inquiry found that 81 officers and 38 contractors were involved in financial irregularities through fake bills.

About 120 contractors, 30 of them big players, are presently involved in the garbage business. N R Ramesh, BJP corporator from Yediyur, claims that Bangalore is the only City in India that spends about Rs 430 crore a year on garbage disposal. Mumbai, that has twice the population of Bangalore, spent Rs 191 crore in the last fiscal, Delhi spent Rs 177 crore and Chennai, which too is larger than Bangalore, Rs 135 crore.

The corporator said Bangalore spent Rs 70 crore on lifting garbage from the City in the previous financial year, while it gave Rs 8 crore to the landfill operators as tipping fees. In the previous year, Rs 350 crore was shown as spent on the transportation of garbage.

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