Red Bull’s flight competition leaves Sankey lake premises garbage-ridden

India’s 1st #RedBullFlugtag. 28th September, 2014. Sankey Tank, Bangalore. Done.

Red Bull, the beverage company, put this message out with a photo on their Facebook page, just after the end of India’s first Flugtag event, held at the Sankey Tank premises in Malleshwaram, Bangalore.

The event that was meant to be a competition for innovative flying equipment, was presumed to be over by the organisers; but it was not so, especially when one considers the aftermath of the event. Regular walkers who entered the premises on Monday morning were in for a shock – there was garbage strewn all over the usually clean area – beverage cans and plastic water bottles in the lake, left-over, uncleared food, event tags etc. Pigeons were seen eating thermocol pieces on which some food had dried up.

Vani Murthy, a morning walker at Sankey Tank, also a composting enthusiast, says: “I cannot believe that so much garbage was generated. They should not have allowed food and drinks inside Sankey (Tank). It is like ‘entertainment ke liye kuch bhi karega’… including trashing and least care to conserve the fragile ecosystem there. Bottled water should have been banned. It is painful and sad to see events that really don’t care for the environment. Basic concern for reducing the burden on landfills should be the priority for any event organiser.”

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Event pictures: Shree D N and Post-event pictures: Vani Murthy

The event saw huge turnout, with thousands of people thronging the venue. A majority of the people who turned up were not let inside the premises, as it was filled to capacity.

Event was not commercial?

Some concerned citizens who were affected by the noise pollution filed a police complaint on the day of the protest. The complaint, a copy of which is available with Citizen Matters, says that the event was in ‘blatant violation of existing directive of the High Court dated 11/04/2012’ based on N K Patil Committee Report, that banned private commercial functions in lake premises.

However, the reply from the Sadashivanagar Police to the complainants clarified that the event had all required permissions, and that the aspect of it being a commercial event would be examined.

Ramalinga Reddy, District in-charge Minister who attended the event, told Citizen Matters: “I had been to the Red Bull event. I got to catch the last part of it. As  far as I know, it was not a commercial event – people were walking in and out freely. With respect to the garbage that has been left over, I will talk to Ashwath Narayan, MLA, Malleswaram, who had invited me for the event, to look into the matter.”

He added that it should be the responsibility of the organisers to leave the area as they found it – “They should take ensure garbage is cleared”.

Public not allowed inside

Youngsters who came from various corners of Bangalore after the firm’s sms-based marketing were seen waiting for long time, outside the gate, on the footpaths of Sankey Road. People with passes and invitations were also not allowed inside after sometime. Entry for media representatives was also by invitation only.

VVIP passes were given to selected people by the organisers. Structures were installed on the walking path to provide shade to the VVIP guests. Food and beverages were supplied to the VVIP area by the organisers. LCD screens were put up inside the lake premises, so that even those who were far from the scene of action inside the premises, could watch what was happening. Portable washrooms and first aid facilities were also organised.

The walkers path on the Sadashivanagar-side entrance of the lake, was completely reserved for participants to prepare their flying equipment.

People unhappy with organisers

Since the event, the Red Bull Facebook page has been flooded with comments about the event. While many people have appreciated the event, there are a good number who have expressed their displeasure over not getting an entry. Many others have raised the issue of leaving the lake premises dirty.

Some Facebook users claimed photos they posted of the dirty premises have been allegedly removed by the page admins. People also commented about the lack of order and clarity, traffic jam created, denial of entry for even the passholders. Red Bull has not responded to any of these comments.

Most citizens had no clue on impact of the event

Most people in Malleshwaram had seen the advertisements of the event, but had no idea of how the event was going to be conducted and what the impact would be. G V Dasharathi, a citizen from the area, prepared a video explaining the impact of such events, which can be seen here.

 

However, it does not seem to have had an impact.

Rajesh Kallaje, a Malleshwaram resident, explained on his Facebook post that being unable to bear the noise on Saturday, when the event set-up was going on, he complained to the police. The noise stopped by the evening, and resumed once again on Sunday morning. He says, “The assault on our ears started early in the morning. I was really fed up by then. When I called the police station, the staff replied -‘Our officers have also gone to attend the function saar! What can we do?’

He then called the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Alok Kumar, who said he would inform the local police. He also approached Police Commissioner M N Reddy, but there was no response from him.

Meanwhile, Aruna Ram Kumar, an environmental activist, had started a petition to voice people’s concerns to the Minister of Forest Ecology and Environment Government of Karnataka. She says that there was no environmental plan drawn up for the event. There were no material guidelines that were given to the participant teams, to ensure they do not harm the environment or how they have to salvage the materials from the tank. There was no compliance of rules with regard to waste management, pollution management and protecting the scores of birds that have made Sankey Tank their habitat.

“With most tanks of the city dying, it takes years to restore them to the present state. One Flugtag event like this can literally result in death of a tank/lake,” she observes. 


 

Addendum (as on October 2nd 2014)

300 Feet Eco Solutions, the organisation which was contracted to manage the waste generated during the Red Bull Flugtag event has clarified that they have cleared out the waste from the Sankey Lake premises within 24 hours of the close of the event. Read: 300 Feet Eco Solutions and Hasiru Dala clean up Sankey Lake premises.

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