Bengaluru: With little over six weeks left for the December 1 deadline to expire, when dumping of garbage at the Mandur landfill which caused residents of the village untold hardship in terms of health and clean air must end, the BBMP is all set to inflict a similar blight on residents who live in and around pristine Turahalli forest, where it is setting up a garbage processing plant, in clear violation of solid waste management rules.
Under the Municipal Solid Waste, Rule 2000, solid waste management cannot be taken up near lakes and forests. The BBMP does not have an NOC from the forest department nor has it applied for clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority.
“As farmers, our livelihood depends on agriculture. Cattle from the surrounding 21 villages survive on water drawn from Somapura, Hemmigepura and Konnasandra lakes. If our land is affected and the groundwater contaminated, our lives will be destroyed,” says Devaraj, a farmer from Mettakalpalya, who like thousands of villagers of Lingadheeranahalli, Mettakalpalya, Hemmigepura and other villages is worried about the garbage processing plant coming up near Banashankari 6th stage, close to the B.M Kaval reserve forest.
The BBMP is bent on establishing the 200-tonne capacity garbage processing plant here despite the protests of the villagers and members of the Banashankari 6th stage Residents’ Welfare Association, who have complained to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board against the possibility of the unit contaminating their ground and surface water, destroying nearby forests, reducing rainfall and causing health complications owing to the stench and dirt it could expose them to.
“We often spot peacocks, deer, and sometimes even leopards here. We have grown up watching animals and birds in our neighbourhood and now we are afraid they may stop coming if the water is contaminated,” says Devaraj, noting that the work on the processing plant is going on under tight police security despite their concerns. “The officers threaten to book us under the Goonda Act if we protest. Our hands are tied,” he adds.
Wondering how the BBMP plans to ensure round-the-clock maintenance of the plant, he says, “It claims there will be no problem as it is a closed unit, but how can it ensure that garbage trucks won’t dump the rubbish outside the plant, somewhere in the forest? None of the solid waste management rules were followed while dumping garbage at Mandur and Mavallipura. What’s the guarantee this won’t happen here too?”
But ask the BBMP and it claims the villagers’ fears are unfounded. “The plant is a closed unit and should not cause any harm to the people in the vicinity. Measures will be taken to prevent the stench and since its a smaller capacity unit, there is nothing to worry about,” says a solid waste management official of the civic agency.
When his attention is drawn to the fact that the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2000 do not allow setting up of garbage plants near forest areas,
he points out that the BDA has developed a layout nearby against the rules too. And BBMP commissioner, M. Lakshminarayan had this to say when contacted, “Let every house in the city generate zero waste so the BBMP does not have to install garbage processing plants. If these residents are so concerned about nature, why did they not complain when the BDA was forming a layout here? They should understand that the processing plant is for their benefit.”