Mounds of litter consisting of plastics, food leftovers, human and animal waste among others in various stages of decomposition have now become a common sight and a familiar smell for an average Bangalorean.
The issue of piled up garbage, overlooked by labourers, contractors, corporators and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), is affecting people from all walks of life. But the worst hit in the silicon city continue to be residents of low-income areas. The recent rains have exposed this section of Bangaloreans to a host of health problems.
Ratna, a housewife, would normally starts her day by drawing rangolis outside her modest concrete hut in Sarbandepalya, a slum located behind the Banashankari Bus Depot. But, after the recent rains, she sweeps wet, rotten garbage that is collected outside her door. With a handkerchief held against her nose, she controls herself from throwing up while sweeping the mess.
“Sweeping garbage off my part of the street has become my first activity in the morning. It is a low lying area and since we do not have a dustbin, people dispose their trash right outside the Government School compound. When it rains, everything gets washed and runs down,” she rued. She fears that very soon, the area would be thrown open to a host of water-borne diseases.
The Government Urdu High School located in the same slum has garbage heaps right outside its compound wall. “Sometimes, the garbage is not cleared for two weeks. The entire slum’s refuse is heaped here. Thankfully, the summer holidays are going on. But when the school reopens in June, in just a week, students are going to have a hard time because of the stench emanating from all the trash,” said Shilpa Sree, who lives near the school.
Less than five km from Sarbandepalya, on KR Road, is Yediyur. The main road is filled with garbage, with the heap increasing around electric poles, transformers and street-corners. Beena, a resident of the colony said that she is scared to send her kids out to play. “Last Wednesday, when it rained very heavily, my son developed an infection on his foot. He was playing in the puddles which had garbage in them. Every time he goes out to play he is prone to infections,” she questioned. Associate Professor, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) Dr Giridhara R Babu said that exposure to garbage makes people prone to a host of infections and sometimes even serious illness.
“When water contaminated with litter mixes with drinking water, it may lead to gastroenteritis, salmonella infections, hepatitis and dysentery. These diseases are characterised by nausea, vomiting and stomach infections,” he said. “If the garbage in the city is not cleared immediately, we are staring at a serious spate of diseases,” he warned.
Residents also fear that stray dog behaviour may change because of the uncollected waste.