Piles of garbage lie unattended. Passers-by cringe as they walk past, quickly crossing over to the other side of the road. The carefree add to the mess, urinating right there in the open.
This has been the scene for the past 15 years, outside the Air Force Camp School on Wind Tunnel Road in Murugeshpalya in the Old Airport Road area. The school students have to endure this everyday. Repeated complaints by school authorities and residents of the area have proved futile.
"We have a lot of inconvenience because of this dump yard and its intolerable smell," says K Bhaumathi, Principal, Air Force Camp School. "Rodents enter our campus through the wall and cause serious sanitation issues. This has been the case since I joined this school, which was in 1995."
Bhanumathi explains that they have made repeated telephone complaints to the local BBMP ward office, but to no avail. "Even after trying to contact many officials regarding the clearance of this dumping yard, no action has been taken till date. We gave up now", she says.
However, BBMP officials deny that any "serious" complaint has been made to them. "If we do receive complaints in future, we will definitely look into this issue", says M G Hegde, Assistant Engineer, BBMP, Konena Agrahara (Ward 113).
Interestingly, Hegde doesn’t deny knowledge of the dumping of garbage outside this school. "The BBMP lorries cannot enter most of the narrow lanes in Murugeshpalya. Ideally, the mini-autos and trucks that collect garbage from various lanes should be dropping it directly into the lorries. The dumping spot has been used as an intermediate place for a long time now. This is mainly due to the reluctant work of the contractor in this area", he reveals.
The local contractor, however, believes he is supposed to dump garbage near the wall. "My work is to use the spot provided as an intermediate dumping yard," says S N Balasubramaniam, the garbage collection contractor in this area. "This particular spot has been used for about fifteen to twenty years now. But, I have been a contractor in this area only for the last three years. If this dumping spot is really a problem and the BBMP suggests an alternative spot, I would shift the spot immediately."
The BBMP contractor’s mini-autos and trucks pick up the garbage from fruit shops, hotels and households and deposit it by the Air Force Camp School wall. This area serves as an intermediate dumping spot, before large BBMP lorries come back to load up before heading to a recycling factory in Mandoor located in the eastern outskirts of Bangalore.
Even as the garbage is collected everyday, dirty, smelly water remains on the street.
Residents in this area agree that the spot has become a nuisance. "I am planning to file a complaint because of the bad smell from this garbage dump. This would definitely affect the business in my restaurant," says Mandeep Singh, who is setting up a restaurant right opposite the Air Force Camp School wall.
"I never walk along that side of the road," says Priya, a homemaker, and resident of the area. "This has been the case for a long time now, maybe years. They collect the garbage every morning but I don’t think it helps. The waste water, as you can see, is left behind even after collection."
Priya says she has also lodged several telephonic complaints.
"I had been a part of the Residents’ Welfare Association a few years back. We have given many personal and telephonic complaints about all the garbage problems in this area. No use. The collection is not proper. The garbage in my house has been lying here for one week now. That road is a very big problem till date. The BBMP has not taken any steps. The Residents Welfare Association is not very active anymore though," says Sasidharan Nair, a retired auditor who resides in this area.
The contractor Balasubramaniam says that residents have complained to him and the garbage collection supervisor a number of times in the last three years of his contract in this area. He says he cannot do anything without the BBMP’s consent.
The corporator of the ward, BJP’s Chandrappa Reddy says he is aware of the problem. "I have spoken to the BBMP on better garbage collection from this spot, already. There is no way that we can change the spot right now because there are no alternatives that we could think of. So I have insisted on collecting the garbage every day in a clean manner and it will be done."
On September 21st, restaurant owner Singh says Reddy was present at the spot for about three hours, supervising the collection of garbage.