BENGALURU: On a weekly basis, Venkatesh, resident of Banashankari 6th stage, carts his garbage 3 to 4 km (either to Kodipalya or Byanpalya), to find a spot to dump it. “Sometimes, I have to take a break from my regular job to do this,” he says. He is a consultant at a software company.
Some of his neighbours don’t want to be inconvenienced with this long trudge to a garbage pile, so they burn waste outside their houses, emitting poisonous fumes.
The residents in this layout, far from the city centre, are left to fend for themselves. No one comes to collect their garbage, therefore the weekly trips, and there is no proper water connection. There are no street lights, though they have raised the matter with the Bangalore Development Authority, and the nights are unsafe with drunken groups coming to their open spaces. The road from the city to the layout is through a forested area, Kodipalya, and deserted.
The area comes under the BDA, which requires permission from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike for garbage-disposal facilities and BWSSB for water supply. This creates bureaucratic delays to get basic facilities.
Venkatesh moved to the this locality, two years ago, to lead a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle in the heart of the city. “The `10,000 property tax collected towards the development of the layout, when the plot was bought, has not been used at all since the the area lacks the basic facilities, particularly water,” he says.
Same is the case with SD Someshwar, who bought the plot 14 years ago for `30,000, when the layout was first formed. “I have not received an ounce of corporation water,” he says. He relies on a borewell for which he spent `3 lakh. “During the summer months, the borewells become dry and I have start purchasing a water load for `2,000 every month,” he said. Residents use a softener to purify the water that they get for `30,000.
To solve the water crisis, the BDA had proposed the construction of six wet wells and two sewage treatment plants in the area. A statement released to the residents regarding the status of the constructions says that the land acquisition process for the STP in Hemmigepura is almost complete. While, the land acquisition process for the STP in Sompura will be done at the earliest.
A BDA document, on the status of the construction at Sompura, talks of the difficulty in acquiring land. “The acquisition of land for the construction of the proposed STP is an essential requirement and is pending for a long period. There is no alternative to the said proposal to shift the plot. In the absence of the acquisition of the STP land, it is difficult to finalise the proposed wet wells and pumping mains to the safe disposal points.”
Being far from the city, 20 km from MG Road, it was considered for a dry-waste processing unit. The resident welfare association fought for a stay on this, from the National Green Tribunal, and won it in February 2015. Inspite of the stay, few months later, the residents noticed police trucks zooming into the area. The BBMP had started work on the waste-processing unit.
“We did not want to protest as we are educated people, we decided to file a case instead,” says Srinivas, who is handling the legalities.
Association members went to the NGT once again. This time, a contempt of court was filed against the BBMP at the Tribunal. The case went to the High Court that revoked the contempt of court order in September. Five hundred people were called for a public hearing on the dry-waste unit. “In the objection report that was collected, all the residents had voiced their opposition to the construction of the plant,” Venkatesh says. The representative from the Karnataka State Pollution Board who was present had heard all their concerns, but the environmental clearance was given regardless.
Srinivas says that the unit will be surrounded by villages, houses and a forested area, which he fears will be affected by the incoming trucks on a regular basis.
The Resident Association was formed only in 2013 as there are only 1,000 residents in this layout. “It makes us feel powerless and isolated,” says Venkatesh.
ST Somashekhar,MLA, yeshwantpura
Q) How much development is needed for the area under BBMP?
A: As there is a code of conduct, for MLC elections, that prevails till December 30, no work can start right now. Work on granting amenities to the layout will only start from January first week. I have facilitated the allotment of `38 crore.
Q) What is the status of water supply?
A: Four months ago, I have ensured that money has been deposited to the BWSSB to supply Cauvery water in trucks to the area. Within six months, water will be supplied regularly.
Q) After so many years, why are the residents still struggling?
A: I have always been approachable. I have personally accompanied the residents to meetings at the BDA commissioner’s chambers two or three times. But a few people are working against me and not appreciating my work. I have tried to clear their problems. In fact, `2 crore was given for tarring of roads in the last months.
Q) What is the status of the STPs in the area?
A: I am unaware about the work done so far as I am a member of the Legislative Assembly and the responsibility lies with the BDA, who need to be questioned on the matter.