Stir off, but garbage woes pile up

With new garbage contractors lined up, the BBMP is confident that the garbage mess dogging the city can be tackled effectively. But it may just have to contend with problems from another quarter, which could only make matters worse yet again.

The pourakarmikas who have been protesting for the last two years, have put their foot down, demanding better facilities and are not willing to comply with the conditions laid down by the new contractors. They are also opposing the 21 conditions laid down by the contractors.
With scores of pourakarmikas, who were hired on contract, choosing to stay away from work till their demands are met, it is the citizens who are left to bear the brunt again as garbage lies piled up in many areas. Mounds of waste have piled up in almost all the markets across the city with K.R. Market being the worst affected.

Following the protest by contract pourakarmikas on Wednesday, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel, instead of convening a meeting between the garbage contractor and purakarmikas, is waiting to see what happens further, remarked a leader of the pourakarmikas. "Mr Goel suggested that the pourakarmikas could approach the BBMP if they are removed from their jobs and the Palike will do the needful. But this is not instilling any kind of confidence among us", said pourakarmika leaders.
“We are employed by the BBMP. We are not obliged to accept the conditions stipulated by the contractor. We have put forth some demands before the BBMP. If our demands are not met, we will also join the protest", said BBMP Pourakarmikas and Arogya Gangmen Assoc­ation president N. Narayan.

Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy said that from December 1, the new contractor will take over garbage clearance in a phased manner across the city and appealed to pourakarmikas return to work and not to fear job loss. They will be looked after as per the labour laws and will be given protective gear. Salaries will be given through cheques and it will not be misused, he added.

Later in the day, the protest was called off.

Waste adds to rising pollution

After a survey by scientists at Tel Aviv University rated Bengaluru among top polluted metros in the world, city environmentalist are now stressing on fixing the problems. As if the rise in pollution levels was not enough, indiscriminate disposal of solid waste in landfills is also contributing to emission of green house gases, they point out.

Researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) say that apart from the vehicular and industrial pollution, which poses a threat to the health of citizens in Bengaluru, the increasing waste disposal in open sites and burning is adding to the emission levels.

“When you look at the waste composition, about 70 per cent of it is organic. When this waste is not used for creating energy or manure, it is dumped in landfills. The stagnant waste slowly oozes liquid into the ground water and due to dumping on the surface it emits methane in the absence of oxygen. Similarly, liquid waste, like sewage, is allowed to flow into open channels and lakes. This too produces gases which are more harmful than carbon,” says Dr T.V. Ramachandra of the wetland and energy research group at IISc.

Ecologists are now demanding that the city’s growth be rationalized in order to save it. “Bengaluru is dying a slow death. We must act now. There is no political will. Political leaders are working for their own interest and there is no public welfare work going on. Look at our roads and their condition. Vehicles burn more fuel adding to carbon emissions in city,” adds senior environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy.

Another environmentalist and theatre personality, Mr Suresh Heblikar, feels that the city has grown beyond its carrying capacity and it is time the government began decentralizing development.
“Why do we need all the infrastructure in Bengaluru? Why do we need the agricultural university and veterinary institute in a city like Bengaluru? The government must map Bengaluru and start decentralizing development towards the smaller cities. For the last one decade, we have been pressing for creating cycle lanes and better walkways, but none of these have seen light of the day,” Mr Heblikar pointed out.

“Due to rampant urbanization there has been largescale migration to Bengaluru, but successive governments have failed to provide basic infrastructure for those living on the outskirts. At least 2,000 tons of firewood is burnt in city and surroundings every day adding to air pollution,” Mr Heblikar added.

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