Bengaluru: “I have never imagined how bad the situation in Mandur was until I saw a landfill. Today I think I can connect with those villagers. The stench, mosquitoes and the fumes from the burning of garbage- it’s just overwhelming!” says Kavitha, as she struggles to find a place in the Arekere Mini Forest to do her daily yoga.
Even after 20 minutes of search, she still can’t find a clean spot for her daily yoga, so she decides to spread her mat next to a heap of plastic bags. “Can you believe that a park has been converted into a garbage segregation point? We don’t have enough greenery in the city to boast of and now the BBMP wants to turn this existing lung space into a dump yard! How can they be so insensitive?” she asks.
Listening to her complaints, Prakash, another regular walker in the park, pitches in, “The BBMP workers, often led by some goon-like contractor, bring garbage autos and burn leaves and plastic covers in the early hours of the morning every day. When the fence eats the crop what can anybody do?”
The anger among residents seems justified when they explain to us that this mini forest is the only park in the neighbourhood, which is being used for the wrong reasons.
“We have waited, fought and worked hard to ensure that the Mini Forest becomes conducive to use for walkers and joggers in the locality. There is no better lung space in the area for senior citizens. By turning a beautiful forest into a garbage dump, the BBMP has blatantly defaced this Mini Forest,” rues Mukesh, who has seen the park change over the last 20 years.
If that wasn’t enough, hundreds of people who bought houses in the vicinity of the park hoping to wake up to the sight of ‘greenery’ and the melodious chirping of birds, are now woken up by the buzzing of mosquitoes, says Savitha.
“My house is a stone’s throw from the park. There was a time when I used to see sparrows sitting on my balcony, but today we are afraid to open our windows, for fear we may catch some disease if the windows are open,” she says. The residents rue the fact that despite many protests, BBMP workers have still not stopped segregating garbage inside the park.
Residents reluctant to segregate waste: Arekere corporator Bhagyalakshmi
Why has the mini forest turned into a garbage dumpyard?
Most often people come on bikes and throw garbage in the middle of the night. The citizens must understand that they too have a role in keeping the city clean. It is their city too and by dumping waste they are exposing others to health hazards.
Most often garbage is thrown in plastic covers, which is not degradable. Most residents don't segregate garbage at source and it has to be done by pourakarmikas, who sometimes do it in the park.
What have you done to resolve the issue?
I have been trying to install CCTV cameras. In addition, I am running awareness campaigns to sensitize people regarding the problems caused by illegal dumping of garbage. During some occasions our campaign volunteers have tried to chase those illegally dumping garbage, but it hasn't proved to be a deterrent.
How do you plan to overcome this menace?
I want to make the area greener by growing plants at the end of summer, so that citizens get inspired and do not to litter the area.