In a landmark decision, A S Sadashivaiah, Chairman, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), has directed BBMP and Ramky Infrastructure Pvt ltd, the private operator of landfill, to immediately stop dumping waste in Mavallipura landfill. This comes a week after BBMP handed over an acceptance letter to Ramky for setting up a power plant which produce power out of waste at Mavallipura landfill.
“Stop the supply of waste by BBMP to the Mavallipura Landfill site, at survey number eight, Hesaraghatta Hobli, Bangalore North, immediately till the entire accumulated waste is completely processed for composting as per scientific treatment within the plant by Ramky Infrastructure Ltd,” says Sadashivaiah in an order says Sadashivaiah.
The order notes that Ramky and BBMP had enough opportunities to fix the problem. “But there is no compliance so far and further you are operating without valid authorisation of the board as per MSW rules, 2000, so board has no other option,” says the order.
BBMP in the meanwhile is trying to soften KSPCB’s stand. Puttamurthy V N, Assistant Engineer at the BBMP’s Solid Waste Management department, says, “At present we don’t have any other place to dump waste other than Mavallipura. We will have a meeting with KSPCB chairman and will take necessary decisions.”
Surprisingly Ramky on the other hand feels KSPCB’s decision is rational. “We will not take waste from BBMP until we have finished processing the existing waste. We did not do anything wrong and we will follow KSPCB’s order,” says Ashwin Reddy K, operation manager Ramky.
Environmental support Group (ESG), an NGO, fighting against the landfill at Mavallipura is pleased with the KSPCB order and considers it as a landmark development.
Leo F Saldanha, founder of ESG, feels that this order constitutes a significant step forward in the environmental regulatory history of India. “Such action also draws support from various directions of the Supreme Court that has repeatedly upheld the Polluter Pays Principle as a key instrument to stop environmental pollution in India,” says Saldanha.
Four lives lost
Since March 2012, four people have died and the villagers attribute their deaths to the pollution. “Four people died here in the last six months due to various diseases and many are suffering from jaundice, asthma and allergic disorders,” says Srinivas L, Mavallipura Panchayath member.
It was in 2007 BBMP and Ramky entered into an agreement for the processing of around 600 tons of waste from many wards of Bangalore at Mavallipura.
“Ramky failed to process the waste scientifically and worked by violating all scientific norms of solid waste management, says Srinivas.
Ramky has violated some of the key rules of processing municipal solid waste. Some of them are:
- The landfill site shall have wastes inspection facility to monitor wastes brought in for landfill, office facility for record keeping and shelter for keeping equipment and machinery including pollution monitoring equipment.
- Provisions like weighbridge to measure quantity of waste brought at landfill site, fire protection equipments and other facilities as may be required shall be provided.
- A buffer zone of no-development shall be maintained around landfill site and shall be incorporated in the Town Planning Departments land-use plans.
- The landfill site shall be away from habitation clusters, forest areas, water bodies monuments, National Parks, Wetlands and places of important cultural, historical or religious interest.
- Ambient air quality test periodically.
- A leachate plant to treat the effluent coming out from the garbage.
But all these norms are violating at Mavallipura landfill. When Citizen Matters asked Reddy, he declined comment.
Bangalore Dairy declined to collect milk coming from Mavallipura
Meanwhile Bangalore Milk Diary has refused to collect milk from Mavallipura villagers by citing low quality of milk as the reason. Dairy’s decision has affected many dairy farmers in the village. Polluted water, air and fodder have caused the milk quality to come down, say the villagers.
“Our farmers produce around ten thousand litres of milk every day. But Bangalore Dairy says the milk does not have the preferred quality and are reluctant to buy that milk,” says Srinivas B, Panchayath member.
When Citizen Matters contacted Ravi Shankar Hegde, Manager, Procurement, Bangalore Dairy, he said, “We test before taking the milk from farmers and found that the quality of the milk in Mavallipura was very low. It is definitely because of the (polluted) fodder and water it (cows) consumes.”
Ramky claims they have got less land
But Ramky says, they have received less land than what is mentioned in the agreement, which prevents effective waste processing. They claim that out 100 acres promised, only 46 acres were given while another 46 is under litigation and another eight acres is under High Tension wire, where no construction activity can be taken up. Reddy from Ramky says that this has barred them from installing necessary machinery for garbage processing.
Ramky claims with the existing machinery they could process only less than fifty percent of the total waste being dumped at Mavallipura. The remaining waste have been piling up every day and became a mountain of garbage.
BBMP says, in 2006 state government has identified the particular 100 acre land at Mavallipura for the landfill and handed over to BBMP.
BBMP got the land from state government in 2006 “State government has given us 100 acre land in 2006 for the landfill. But right after some of villagers and Forest department claimed ownership on the 46 acres. And the case has been litigation.
But Puttamurthy assures that the power out of waste plant work will start at Mavallipura as scheduled and will finish in 20 months.
Power-out-of-waste plant delayed
Perhaps the mess could have been prevented if BBMP had installed the power out of waste plant, about which discussions have been going on since 2006. As per section two of Ministry of Environment and Forest Notification on Processing of municipal solid waste, ‘Municipal authorities shall adopt suitable technology or combination of such technologies to make use of waste so as to minimize burden on landfill.’
As per this notification, it is BBMP’s duty to find out a suitable technology to minimise the landfill. Though it came up with the idea for a power plant at Mavallipura in 2006, BBMP has failed to install it so far.
In Mavallipura with the existing combustion technology, only less than 20 percent of the waste can be processed. But the proposed power project that has a capacity to process up to 90 percent of waste did not see light of day.
“We were ready for installing the project but that does not mean we are supposed to push BBMP for the project. The file for the project has been moving since six years but finally on 04-07-2012 we got an acceptance letter for the project from BBMP,” says Reddy.
But BBMP says the project is delayed as it had to pass through various steps. The project proposal, approval, verification etc,. are needed to be cleared.
Power plant is the only solution
N S Ramakanth, an solid waste management activist-expert based at Vasanthnagar says a power plant to process the waste is the only solution at Mavallipura. “Every day, since 2007, around ten million tons of waste are being dumped here without any kind of processing. It is such a dangerous situation and beyond our reach,” says Ramakanth.
“60 percent of Bangalore’s waste is organic. So we should promote methane or compost out of waste technology in each and every ward. By promoting this we can save huge amount of money of transportation and labor charge,” he added.
Another tragedy waiting to happen at Subbarayanapalya
Eight people have died since 2011 because landfill in Subbarayanapalya near Kumbalgodu. Subbarayanapalya’s 15 acres, is a dumping ground for 300 tonnes of waste every day for the past nine years. The villagers live just about a kilometre away from landfill.
“8 people died in the last one and a half year due to diseases like jaundice, fever, malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis etc. The average age of the people died is only 35,” says Venkat Laxmamma, Anganwadi teacher at Subbarayanpalya.
Subbarayanpalya is a mere landfill, there is no segregation, processing and recycling. Three years ago BBMP has proposed one automated garbage segregation plant at Subbarayanpalya but has not implemented so far. As in the two previous BBMP budgets, this year also the budget mentions the project. Puttamurthy says “The project has been given for tender. Once it is approved we will start the work shortly.”
Ravi M, a student from the village, says, “Our children miss school due to illness. We cannot eat food due to the garbage smell. We have protested thrice but there is no use.”⊕