‘Dumping Saaku’ walk from Mandur to Bengaluru on Saturday

Until the landfill crisis peaked and erupted into major conflict this year, most Bangaloreans did not know where their garbage was doing. That has all changed now.

Even as the Mandur landfill region is threatening to erupt into yet another conflict zone, the AP-headquartered Lok Satta political party has organised a walk ‘Dumping SAAKU’ on Saturday, December 22nd.

Lok Satta party cartoon released for the walk.

Lok Satta party, active in Bengaluru politics since 2010, has organised the walk from Mandur village (north east of the city) to Bengaluru to raise awareness in Bangaloreans about incessant dumping of garbage at rural-area landfill sites outside the city. The party does not have an elected representative in the state yet.

Mandur is located in the northeastern rural fringe of Bengaluru, along the Sivas Road that starts from Budhigere cross on NH4 and goes to Budhigere, past New Baldwin International School. You will find it on the map here.

Trucks carrying garbage to Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad

"Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that, when you want to eat something, hundreds of flies are attacking your food plate/coffee cup, thousands of mosquitoes attacking you day and night, the water you use for drinking and household purposes is contaminated to the core, the air is polluted, the never ending stinking smell creates headache and other health issues, your surroundings are packed with dogs, and instead of sparrows, pigeons, parakeets, you see only eagles and crows in the sky..", says Anand Yadwad, a coordinator for Lok Satta party in Bengaluru, in an emotive Facebook post on Wednesday, December 19th.

Unsegregated waste dumped in Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad

It is the chronic condition of the village areas such Mavallipura and Mandur that in part resulted in pollution watchdog Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) shutting down several landfills earlier this year, causing an inevitable conflict. Whatever waste processing was committed by BBMP’s contracted operators at the landfill to cut down on pollution did not actually happen.

The furore in turn led to a focus on the more affluent Bangaloreans having to segregate wet and dry waste at home, to cut down the loads being sent to landfills. But with a major shakeup in universalising garbage segregation, wet waste processing and tenders still not resolved, the city is still sending its muck to dump sites all around.

Unsegregated waste dumped in Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad

In a sign of fury rising, residents of Mandur and Birahalli villages had decided to dump lorry loads of waste back in front of the residences of both chief minister Shettar and home minister R Ashoka, reported The Hindu on December 19th. Authorities had promised Mandur villagers that from 225 garbage trucks per day in October-November, the load would be reduced to 150 in December and 75 trucks in January, says the report. "Despite these assurances, the BBMP continues to send over 500 trucks of garbage. We are tired of these empty promises," a Mandur gram panchayat member was quoted as saying, in the newspaper.

"Do we have any right to force these villagers to live in such conditions?", asks Yadawad. He says the Lok Satta party has organised the march to get people to work together on solutions.

Unsegregated waste dumped in Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad

The mainline political parties though are not reacting to the situation at Mandur and to Lok Satta’s Saturday event. However, there is consensus that garbage will be an election issue for the city’s campaigns this time.

At the Mavallipura or Mandur landfill sites, the first thing one observes is that the unscientific way of dumping waste. Literally no process has been followed. All the waste has been dumped without any segregation, recycling dry waste, recycling wet waste etc., and dumped directly in pits of 15-20 metres deep. Over the period of time these dumps grown up to be ‘hills’ which have contaminated underground water and the air quality, thereby causing health hazards to the native people.

– Anand Yadwad, Lok Satta Party

Mandur falls in the Mahadevura assembly constituency. Despite the fact that BJP’s Arvind Limbavali is the sitting MLA here, the BJP appears to not be moved by local protests. "There are no discussions within BJP on this. Garbage will be dumped in Mandur. BBMP is dealing with this, and Commissioner will decide on action plan. Let them come with their grievances. If they want to protest in front Ashoka and Shettar’s house, let them do that", says an indifferent S Prakash, Karnataka’s media in-charge for the BJP.

Citizen Matters also spoke to N V Krishnakumar, state General Secretary – Media and Communications wing, JD(S). Krishnakumar spoke with a line on the elections coming up.

"We are not planning to do anything about Mandur landfill now. We are waiting for government to identify all landfills; then we will put forth our suggestions. Landfills cannot be wished away completely," he says.

Yadwad agrees that that landfills cannot be wished away completely. "However, we are sure that we can be wished away from the current mindless landfilling," he is quick to hit back.

"The entire garbage issue and solutions to it will be part of our election manifesto which will released in 3-4 months. We may release a separate manifesto for Bangalore, and garbage will be a major issue in that. We have been holding meetings with RWAs on waste segregation, and JD(S) leaders like Padmanabha Reddy have been vocal in BBMP council about the garbage issue," says Krishnakumar.

The Congress party also claims that it will address the issue when its election manifesto is released. But MLA Narendra Babu and former mayor P R Ramesh did not have a reaction to the immediate crisis at Mandur. "Solutions to the crisis will be part of our election manifesto; we will talk about what projects can be implemented", he says.

Lok Satta on the other hand says that that if all wet waste and dry recyclable waste are removed from Bangalore’s truck loads, the remainder can be dumped scientifically within city limits. The walk begins at Mandur village bus stop at 8 am. It will end at 4 pm in the city.

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