A diary of civic woes

Mound of garbage in front of Sakuntala Narasimhan’s house refuses to go away.

Sometime in May

BBMP workers had dredged out the storm water drain near my house, and left a mound of filth, muck, crushed plastic cups and assorted debris on the edge of the pavement on  8-F main road, Jayanagar. Each time it rained, some of the muck got washed right back into the drain. It was an eyesore and an olfactory assault. There are posh shops all along this road, hundreds of citizens walk or drive past, even park next to the pile of rubbish. The famous Jayanagar shopping complex is just across the road.I complained about it to the city corporation and wrote to the local health officer. Nothing happened.

1st July

Returning from a trip to Boston, I was impressed by the arrangement at the Bangalore International Airport for screening passengers with H1N1 infection. mound of garbage

The mound of garbage outside Sakuntala Narasimhan’s house. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

A series of desks had been set up, with medical personnel measuring each arriving passenger’s temperature.

We were all required to fill up a new form on health related information. The staff were all wearing face masks, and the procedure was quick.Two hours later, as I entered my home in south Bangalore, I noticed the pile of garbage still lying along the pavement outside my door. I then sat at the phone and called the BBMP control room number (Ph: 22100031)  who told me to call the south control room  (Ph: 26566362), then again the particular officer (Ramachandra, Health Inspector, Ph: 9480683977). I was then directed to the south zone office (Ph: 22975750), and then finally the local supervisor (Santosh, 9916327171). A youngish inspector came in a while and informed me that I should call Muralidhar, Senior Health Inspector (Ph: 9480683952).
This was becoming a farce…

Another employee, elderly, in Khaki uniform, turned up because of all the noise I was making, and declared he was the “supervisor in charge of the area” and promised that the muck would be cleared on Sunday.

No one came on Sunday (or subsequent two Sundays) I wrote to the new commissioner, Bharat Lal Meena, regarding uncleared garbage causing health hazards. I didn’t get an acknowledgement.

10th July

BBMP issued a large, half page ad asking doctors to “prevent H1N1”. How about preventing far more widespread illnesses, caused by BBMP’s callousness?

Sakuntala Narasimhan

Sakuntala Narasimhan. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

12th July

I came down with a bad viral fever (diagnosed now as chikungunya), was bed ridden for a week, lost two weeks’ productive work, my daughter had to cancel her trip to Kolkata for a conference, to look after me as I could not move, my joints were paralysed.

I then sent a letter to the Health Officer of Jayanagar (Ward No.60). Till date that mound of garbage is staring at my face.
Leaving a pile of stinking rubbish is a health hazard. H1N1 affects a small number of people who have travelled abroad, and about thirty odd cases have been recorded in the city till now. Rotting garbage can endanger the health of thousands who pass this way daily.
So why isn’t the state and civic administration bothered about the threat to the larger number, while it is able to quickly, put in place enough staff at the airport to check incoming passengers for swine flu?

Why? And why is it that more of us are not asking why? If only a hundred, out of the thousands who pass by, raised their voices and demanded an explanation about why such filth remains untouched, wouldn’t the city get better? Is it apathy, cynicism or philosophical detachment? Or pragmatic aloofness, knowing that this is how the city administration functions?


  1. Anjana Vivek says:

    We have a stagnant pool of water in the road outside which is being dug to make way for the underpass on 15th Cross J.P.Nagar, i.e. the ring road. While regular complaints are made by us, we do not see any major action taken on this. It smells, it is messy and a hazard to live with. Rain water has sometimes mixed with other water… you would not want to hear these details. We are very concerned about the health hazards, particularly for senior citizens and children. We face the same issues that Ms. Sakuntala Narasimhan is facing. It seems indeed a tragic comedy (if there is something like this) that on the one hand citizens are urged to take precautions against the spread of chikungunya and on the other hand those that talk of this are not following what they preach, or are adding to this problem. I was inspired to respond on this forum, by Ms. Narasimhan and her query as to why more of us are not asking questions.

    Another big worry for those who use this road and those who live on it is that the ring road has huge pits dug up without any barricades. There is significant traffic on this road now and it is a danger zone. Particularly in the late evenings and nights, when there is no power and no street lights. As one neighbor said, this is like an open invitation to walk into these pits. Well, we have lived with this, for over a year now. We were initially given to understand the work would be completed in months. The first year anniversary is gone long ago, maybe these problems will continue through another few anniversaries? Who knows? As another neighbor put this, never a dull moment for us!

  2. Vinita says:

    About a month ago i read in the DNA about a new 24×7 garbage helpline by BBMP -22660000 promising that the issue would be addressed within 24hours of the call.
    Having seen a pile of garbage for 2 consecutive days at a spot right outside several houses, I decided to call the helpline.
    I was impressed with the courteousness of the operator and his efficiency when he called 2 hours later – to reconfirm my complaint no. address etc; assuring me that the garbage would be cleared definitely by the next morning.
    i waited and the next day by mid morning i found it had been ‘cleared’ – but only by burning the garbage! So much for the BBMP ensuring our health.
    Can all of us try this helpline for issues related to garbage and see how it responds? Then we could send in our joint feedback to the BBMP?

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