Mandur's nightmare

Hopelessly trapped in the devilish grip of a stink-spewing garbage mountain range next door, the Mandur villagers held their breath. In extreme agony, they cursed their fate and that fatal error of judgment nine summers back when they had let in the first 50 trucks stocked with the city’s muck!

Their health in doldrums, their once rich farmlands in disastrous decline today, the villagers had once trusted the Bangalore city corporation’s men and machines. They had a reason: A yearning for a trouble-free supply of power. The corporation had promised them exactly that, loads of clean energy to power their homes and their irrigation pumpsets.

For years they held onto such hopes. But right in their backyard, the garbage mounts grew organically in height and depth. The trucks had multiplied, mercilessly dumping down tons of the city’s untreated waste. As Bangalore boomed in IT glory, the citizens in their consumerist overdrive had no clue where their garbage went. They had never heard of Mandur. And the corporation didn’t bother to let them know!

Pushed to the brink, the villagers eventually hit back in collective angst. They blocked the roads and stopped the trucks. Caught unawares, the corporation, BBMP frantically searched for answers. They could find none. But that protest had a different effect even if the muck remained uncleared. For the first time ever, the villagers had delivered a dramatic message to all Bangaloreans: That they exist, and in conditions none would ever want to be in.

Smug for long in their settled belief that BBMP knew it best how and where to dump their waste, the citizens first recoiled in shock. Segregate waste at source, in houses and in communities, punish those who don’t, they cried in unison. Politically correct, the State and BBMP made all the right noises. But as months passed, Mandur learnt the power of cynicism, of promises unkept, of shallow voices of concern.

In nine years, they realised, the garbage mafia had stuck deep roots in their backyard. The truckers had smelt big money, and they had no intention to forego crores of rupees in revenue. Surely, a few NGOs and residents collectives had pioneered new waste management techniques. They had perfected manure-making from the wet waste. Waste entrepreneurs had worked out ways to make money from garbage, generate jobs. But their numbers were miniscule. The City had failed Mandur. Yet again.

Last week, as over 200 trucks inched closer to the landfill with all the city’s untreated muck, dusk had enveloped the village in a sinister hue. An old, acutely sick and weary man coughed breathlessly through the night. The air was thick with the smell of rotten waste. The villagers knew they had no choice but to endure another nightmare!

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