BENGALURU: In places like Avenue Road, black spots (unofficial garbage dumps) have become landmarks. While giving directions, shopkeepers are heard saying: “From the pile of garbage, after the flower vendors, turn right and you will find the autorickshaw stand.”That is an example of the permanence of garbage piles in the city -- they have become part of the streetscape, and are an eyesore. And for this, it is not just the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) which can be blamed, but citizens too.
This scene is common, especially during mornings and evenings: people throw their garbage bags by the roadsides. Many residents stop their cars and two-wheelers by black spots, and dump their garbage by the roadside, and this has become something like a “broken window syndrome”, where people do things at the very spot where others have been noticed doing it earlier.
People also throw garbage as if it is their right to do so, and expect not to be questioned or pulled up, even by those who are authorised to do so. Recently, a garbage marshal on duty near Bellandur Lake photographed an offender, who rolled down his car window and threw garbage by the roadside. When he was questioned, the motorist attacked the marshal, first verbally and then physically. The offending motorist had thrown the garbage after noticing an already existing garbage pile at a permanent black spot near Bellandur-Varthur Road. But he failed to realise that this pile of filth is a result of other citizens who dumped their waste there before him, and which is not lifted by garbage contractors.
Ironically, it is the citizenry which is affected due to the behaviour of their own fellow-citizens. A ride across the city shows pedestrians holding their breath or covering their faces at regular intervals, while avoiding piles of garbage and black spots.
Annapoorna Kamath, managing trustee, Satya Foundation, said: “Citizens and BBMP are equally to blame. Eighty percent of the problem is because of citizens who don’t segregate waste. In case of visual pollution, like black spots, it is citizens who are at fault. BBMP is also to be blamed for not taking proper measures. In some areas, BBMP is doing exemplary work of garbage collection, with little support from citizens. In others, citizens are pro-active, but BBMP is lax. The only solution to garbage management is coordination between BBMP and citizens.”
BBMP officials admit that black spots are a major problem. A senior BBMP official said: “Of the 4,200 tonnes of garbage generated every day, only 3,500 tonnes reaches landfills and waste processing units. The remaining is thrown around the city, which is a major problem.”
The BBMP has appointed 198 marshals — one for each ward — to ensure there is no dumping of garbage and to penalise offenders. But little is happening on the ground as one marshal is unable to keep vigil on the entire ward. BBMP also wants to give each marshal a hand-held device to photograph offenders and penalise them. Citizens and officials admit this would have a bigger impact.
Many auto tippers, compactors and even citizens empty out waste in vacant sites and all along the Koramangala-Challaghatta and Vrushabhavathi valleys. Despite stringent rules under the Air and Water Act on contaminating water bodies, these valleys have turned into dumpyards, citizens say.
BBMP compactors and auto tippers unload their vehicles in the 110 villages, CMC, TMC and areas on the city outskirts, like Kanakapura Road, Bannerghatta Road, Anekal, Peenya, Jigani, Brookefield, Whitefield, Kundalahalli, Bellandur, Magadi Road, Sarjapura, Hoskote and Mysuru Road. In fact, the Roerich Estate management had posted a complaint to BBMP about clearing piled-up garbage.
Nalini Shekhar, co-founder, Hasiru Dala, said: “If there is no system in place, how can citizens be blamed? Take the Dasara festivities, for example, a lot of waste was strewn around. This could have been avoided had BBMP taken sufficient measures in advance.”