Tough life for BBMP marshals

They face hostility as they try to keep an eye on garbage collection contractors, bulk garbage generators, and lawless citizens with friends in high places

Marshals who keep an eye out for garbage dumping are often up against a hostile citizenry.

Basavaraju M, a marshal on duty at Harishchandra Ghat near Rajajinagar, was stabbed recently by a man he had ticked off. 

Most marshals are ex-servicemen. Bengaluru has 187 marshals manning 198 wards. Soon, each of the city’s 198 wards will have a marshal.

BBMP Special Commissioner D Randeep says, “We have registered a police complaint against the stabbing. We are waiting to hear from the police.”

Randeep says marshals will soon be provided Prahari vehicles (SUVs) to enable them to move around and nab offenders.

“The marshals have been appointed to monitor the regularity of the auto tippers, and check plastic usage and bulk garbage generator violations,” he says.

The marshal use hand-held devices to record offences, take pictures of offenders, and issue challans. 

Rajbir Singh, chief marshal officer, says a major problem is contractors shortchanging the BBMP by cutting down on the auto tippers they must deploy. “For instance, if there are 40 tippers, only 20 come in. As a result, only part of the waste gets picked up,” explains Rajbir.

Citizens sometimes litter the streets and blame it on irregular collection of garbage.

Dumping of meat waste at night is another major problem marshals face.

“In areas like Kumarswamy Layout and Shivajinagar, people pack meat waste in plastic bags and dump them by the side of the main roads. When we catch them, they are rude and sometimes violent. In such situations, we seek police assistance,” explains Singh.   

He sees a nexus between garbage collection contractors and commercial establishments.

“The contractors sometimes use BBMP vehicles to clandestinely pick up waste from bulk garbage generators such as hotels and pubs and dump them elsewhere. It then becomes the BBMP’s responsibility to clear the waste,” he says. Corporators and other politicians sometimes block smooth implementation of garbage rules. 

The maximum garbage collection is in the East and South zones, which cover Shivajinagar, the central business district, Koramangala, Indiranagar, and Jayanagar.

Somashekar Patil, marshal in the south zone covering Vijayanagar and Basavanagudi, has observed how rule violators drop names.

“When there’s a confrontation, citizens and contractors say they know people in high places,” he explains. 

Antony James Edwin, marshal in charge of Shivajinagar, C V Raman Nagar and Shantinagar, recollects how a corporator rushed to the spot and told marshals to stop confiscating plastic from shops violating the ban.

They are former soldiers

Most marshals are ex-servicemen. They were earlier in charge of monitoring the quality of food served in the BBMP’s Indira Canteens. They were also entrusted with the job of protecting BBMP assets there.

When not at the canteens, marshals go out in teams of four or five, accompanied by ward health inspectors, to the spots prone to unauthorised garbage dumping. They have been keeping an eye out for indiscriminate dumping of waste since September 1. The Ex-Servicemen Welfare Society appoints marshals with the assistance of the Army Placement Node.

What marshals monitor

Tipper vehicles: Contractors send less than the agreed number, which means only part of the garbage gets collected. Pubs, bars, restaurants: As bulk generators of garbage, they are expected to manage it privately. Some of them hire vehicles and clandestinely dump their garbage at BBMP collection points. Citizens: Many come by in their vehicles and drop garbage along the main roads.

‘I was stabbed in the neck’

Basavaraju M, BBMP marshal who works near Harishchandra Ghat and Rajajinagar, recollects what happened on September 29.

“We were on night rounds when a man on a two-wheeler dumped beer bottles and garbage on the main road. When we asked him not to do that, he began verbally abusing us in the worst language possible,” Basavaraju says.

The man rode off in a huff and returned.

“He took out the keys of his two-wheeler and stabbed me in the neck. There was a deep cut but luckily nothing serious happened. This incident has left me shaken,” says Basavaraju.

He has returned to work but fears for his life. “It is hard to work in such an atmosphere,” he says.   

Fine collected

September: Rs 14.33 lakh 
October (1 to 7): Rs 2.57 lakh 

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