Will Minister George’s new 1000-acre landfill quest solve City’s garbage problem?


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Minister for Bangalore Development K J George

Just like the curiosity surrounding the potential whereabouts of the Holy Grail refuses to cease, the Karnataka government’s quest for a new landfill does not quite seem to be coming to an end.

Once again yesterday, Bangalore Development Minister K J George revealed his latest trick of solving the City’s garbage problem based on Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa’s advice: To identify at least 1,000 acres of land for dumping and processing… Further, he stated that this would help “break the politicians-officials-garbage contractors’ nexus”.

The ‘reasons’

The reasons the minister has been quoted as saying by the media for the prevailing filthy conditions are:

  1. Due to the protests by villagers, we could not lift the garbage which resulted in piling up of the garbage in many parts of the city.
  2. It was followed by a series of festivals during which the garbage piles up…
  3. And the untimely rains only added to the problems…

With these statements, is the minister trying to tell us that the garbage problem is quite recent and that if not for the above-stated reasons, the City would have been in apple-pie order?

The people’s protests

They will. They should. They must.

Post the Mandur landfill shutdown, the city’s garbage has no new destination and consequently, the government has been on a relentless lookout for new landfills. A reminder: Exactly a year ago on November 28, Gorur erupted in protests. Hundreds of people were lathicharged, 20 injured, including women and children. The move, in particular at Gorur, was nothing short of an encroachment by the government itself. Had it succeeded in procuring the land, the worst-hit would have been Dalit farmers with one acre or less land-holding.

This was the fourth village that refused to accept garbage from Bangalore. Earlier, the people around the processing unit of Terra Firma near Doddaballapur, Lingadheeranahalli in Banashankari, VI Stage and Lakshmipura (where already a landfill exists) near Bommanahalli and Chikkanagamangala also said a firm ‘no’ Bengaluru’s garbage. Amidst all this, the government somehow managed to reopen the Mavallipura wound and rubbed salt on it. Recently, Bingipura unit was vandalised and protests broke out around the Karnataka Compost Developement Corporation (KCDC) unit near HSR Layout.

Still, despite all this, the government hopes that its renewed 1000-acre landfill quest, presumably all in one piece, will not only succeed but the people living around it will silently accept it! As far as breaking the unholy politicians-officials-contractors nexus goes, isn’t it landfilling—albeit in the name of processing—that landed us in this cauldron of filth and corruption in the first place?

The reason behind the protests

None of these villages would have protested if we had sent only segregated wet waste for processing. They did so only because they were lied to. There was no scientifically designed plant processing only wet waste, but a landfill of its own kind stinking up the surroundings within at least 5km of radius.

The minister’s current stance makes us feel that the garbage problem did arise because they refused to take it in! And, if he keeps harping back on festivals and rains for the unsolved crisis, will we ever be able to solve this problem? What has been missing, ever so conspicuously, is the political will to implement local solutions to solve local problems. A revisit to the 2012 BBMP legislation is all it needs.

Forgive me for bringing this up, but I think it is quite relevant in this context: As a child, whenever I tried to evade finding solutions to a problem by cooking up excuses, my mother used to say this: “You are looking for what have you lost not where you actually did, but wherever there is light.”

I am not sure if I am still doing this, but I am quite sure the governments I have voted for have been doing nothing else but this.

Pic source: thenewsminute.com

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