The Karnataka High Court in an order issued during the court hearing on Friday, November 10th, 2017, said that solid waste should be managed at the ward level in the city of Bengaluru.
This order was delivered by a bench of the Karnataka High Court in the ongoing case – WP 46523/2012 (Environment Support Group & Ors v. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike & Ors connected with WP 24739/2012 and other Public Interest Litigations that are being heard by the Court since July 2012 in tacking the solid waste management crises).
Ward committees were constituted across all wards in Bengaluru, in October 2017. The High Court directed that each ward committee meet by the end of November 2017 and prepare a ward level plan to ‘ensure proper solid waste management and sanitation work in the ward and finalise location of new public sanitation units’ as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976.
Ward committees are local committees comprising citizens in the ward, working in tandem with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to improve civic administration in the city. The High Court order on ward committees aligns with the 74th Constitutional Amendment (Nagarpalika) Act, 1992. The 74th amendment advocates decentralisation of power and devolving it to local bodies to guarantee direct public participation in civic matters.
Management of waste is a continuing crisis across big cities in India including in Bengaluru. Like in other cities, Bengaluru’s waste goes to different landfills in the cities, the largest of them being in Mavallipura. The unscientific dumping of waste in landfills poses serious health hazards to the communities residing in the vicinity. In addition, the environment also gets hugely polluted. The groundwater is heavily contaminated according to the communities which stay near the Mavallipura landfill.
As of now, in Bengaluru city, about 40 percent of waste is segregated at source as per the BBMP. The Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) mandates that all waste be segregated at source, which is certainly not the case across India.
Now, that the Karnataka High Court has issued directions on how the waste should be managed, BBMP should get its act together and prove so before the next hearing which will take place in the first week of November.
As cities get bigger with more population, the volume of municipal waste is only going to increase. In this background, it makes sense to handle waste locally. This order sets a precedent in this aspect.