BANGALORE: Police clamped a curfew late on Tuesday to enable BBMP garbage trucks to enter the Mandur landfill, but defiant protesters continued to block the way. As the village continued to protest for the third day, it was joined by hundreds of people from other villages in the neighbourhood. Women joined the agitation in big numbers.
On Monday night, police arrested 21 protesters and kept them away from the site till the wee hours. Using the opportunity, about 20 trucks dumped garbage in the landfill.
Over 200 policemen from Doddballpur, Gouribidanur and Kolar are standing by at Mandur to prevent any untoward incident.
On Tuesday, protesters put up a pandal to protect themselves from the rain. “We are more than 500 from Mandur, Guntur, Byapanahalli and other villages. We will eat and stay here,” Mahesh, a demonstrator, said. He feels the police were able to arrest protesters on Monday only because they hadn’t gathered in big enough numbers.
Gopal, a resident of Mandur who was arrested on Monday, said, “At 12.30 am, some of us were near the landfill gates when the police arrested us.”
Police first threatened to cane them. “When we asked on what charges they were arresting us, they said we were going against the decisions of the government,” Gopal said. “How can opposing dumping of waste in our backyard amount to opposing the government?”
The police took the protesters to stations in Avalahalli and Hoskote, and finally released them at Anekal, a drive of two hours, early on Tuesday morning.Gopal suspects the police are cutting power to Mandur and other villages to stop them from watching TV news channels. “They feel more people will join the agitation if they see what is happening on TV,” he said.
Meanwhile, many parts of Bangalore continued to stink as waste was not picked up from the streets. Citizens continued to throw waste out on the streets, and rain added to the chaos.
Rani, a pourakarmika in Rajajinagar, said people were insisting she collect waste from their houses. “Where can we take it?” she asked.
Venkatesh, a driver, is equally helpless as his truck remains parked in Kengeri. “The garbage in my truck is two days old. It is smelling bad,” he said.
BBMP’s Rosy View
As trouble continued in Mandur and Bangalore, BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana was a picture of optimism. “We have asked for eight months. Mandur leaders have agreed to allow dumping till March 2015,” he claimed.
Some Mandur residents say politicians are trying to divide the protesters.
Some protesters were driven to the house of a local leader, a follower of MLA Aravind Limbavali. He tried to convince them to stop the agitation. “When we refused, we were arrested again and sent to the Anekal police station. Limbavali is behind all the chaos,” a Mandur resident alleged.
H S Doreswamy, well-known freedom fighter, sat with the protesters at the landfill on Tuesday. “It is a miracle that villagers are living here. The government is irresponsible. Citizens everywhere should support the villagers here,” he said.
Ravikrishna Reddy of the Aam Aadmi Party went to Anekal on Monday to extend support to arrested villagers.
“Anekal is 60 km from Mandur. When we went there, the police did not allow us into the station. They behaved very rudely with us. I told them if these villagers were not released, we would go to court,” he said.
N S Ramakanth, Loksatta leader and member of the BBMP solid waste management committee, said the Mandur landfill must be closed permanently. “It deserves the same fate as the Mavallipura landfill.”
“We are not obeying High Court orders. We are not segregating waste at source, and officials are not levying any penalties. There is a nexus between BBMP officials, councillors and garbage contractors,” he alleged.