Today, Bangalore is a city with many sobriquets. Garden City, IT Capital, Healthcare hub, Biotech Hub on the positive and Crime capital, suicide capital and the latest, Garbage City. Nobody can file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to the propagators of these negative sobriquets...Not the police nor the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), simply because they have cropped up on a strong foundation of reality.
But when it comes to the latest Garbage City tag, there was indeed a PIL filed. Fighting the negative tag was Neeraj Mishra, a resident of Indiranagar. Two years ago, Neeraj filed a PIL in the High Court of Karnataka when he found that garbage near his house had rented the place for free and the BBMP was letting it flourish.
The battle in the garbage city was set in Indiranagar. Though a posh residential locality, garbage retains its personality here too. Even the ‘rich’ garbage stinks. And like everybody else, Neeraj also did not appreciate its presence, that too right next to his house.
He says, “I have been staying in this city for last seven years. During my stay, I observed that garbage is always dumped right beside my house. Although the BBMP truck used to clear it in the morning, the carts that collect household waste again used to dump it here. I spoke to the local corporator and engineers about the issue but they said that for the last 15-20 years this has been the place for dumping garbage and it cannot be altered. Hence, one fine day I decided to take some measures and filed a PIL in the High Court.”
Neeraj filed the PIL on June 26 in the year 2010 and his neighbours and a HOPCOM shopkeeper were signatory to it. Neeraj works for Sahara Group as an advisor to the company, hence, it requires him to travel at least 15-20 days per month. In spite of his tight official schedule, he attended all the 15 hearings that took place during the litigation. He says, “I used to plan my flight in such a manner that I could come and attend the hearings myself.”
On quizzing the reason for taking such pain for a hearing which could have been attended by his counsel, he said, “I wanted to see what kind of excuses they come up with. They used to defend by showing pictures of the garbage being cleared and in return I used to take pictures early in the morning and evening and present them to the court during all the hearings to contradict their statements.”
Finally, the judgment was declared in his favour in the year 2011 on April 15 through a division bench. However, his struggle did not end with the passing of the judgement. Neeraj informed, “The officials of the corporation have such a lackadaisical attitude that even after the judgement was passed to clear the garbage at once, they did not obey. In one instance the Judge had even questioned the engineer if he would have allowed such menace near his house.”
The officials woke up to the occasion only when Neeraj filed a contempt of court. He said, “It has been three months that the park and this neighbouring area got fresh air to breath in. I have spent an amount of `84,000 in this pursuit, which could have been avoided.”
Neeraj feels that citizens should be aware of their civic duties. Today, there is a sign board beside a park on 5th cross that states, ‘Do not dump garbage here. You will be fined `500’.
Although this appears to be a regular sign board that we witness across the city, this is probably one place where BBMP will not like to meddle with garbage. Thanks to Neeraj.