The High Court directed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to reopen the processing unit in Mavallipura, by allowing upto 300 tonnes of pure segregated wet waste to be composted. The two-judge Divisional Bench headed by N Kumar and Nagarathna gave the order in the special hearing that took place in High Court of Karnataka on July 17, 2014.
The 40-acre landfill has been leased out to Ramky Infrastructure Pvt.Ltd for 25 years, in which there is a part that has a processing unit. The Judge, N Kumar said that instead of lying unused, this should be used to process pure wet waste collected by BBMP, with “least problem to the citizens nearby.”
Leo Saldanha, co-founder of Environment Support Group (ESG) who had originally filed a Public Interest Litigation during the days of Mavallipura garbage crisis in 2012, submitted to the court that people of the village would suffer if the landfill is reopened, as dumping would start again. The judge, however, stood his ground, but made it clear that there cannot be any dumping, but only pure wet waste should be sent there for composting, as the city lacks alternative solutions at present.
He instructed BBMP, “Take some reasonable people from the village into confidence and get them to monitor whether the waste being transported is pure wet waste.”
“A portion of the public is misguided. In some cases, BBMP needs police protection. Citizens can assist authorities but can’t stop their functioning,” the Bench observed. Kumar ordered the city Police Commissioner to be present in the next hearing.
‘Can KCDC be handed over to BBMP?’
The High Court also asked the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) as to why they did not increase their capacity and speed of processing the existing waste, when both funds and 45 acres of land had been given to KCDC.
KCDC Managing Director L N Belvanki said there was no financial problem but there was no required infrastructure. Justice N Kumar questioned why KCDC should not be handed over to BBMP for the time being so that they can run the unit till the crisis is solved, then hand it back. KCDC Managing Director sought time to discuss this among his team and get back.
Regarding biomining tender for Mandur, the BBMP said that they received 10 applications, which the judge said should be processed immediately and all capable vendors be chosen. While awarding the tenders, BBMP should keep in mind that incineration (burning of garbage) should be avoided, observed N Kumar.
No Service Tax numbers, fake PAN numbers
Ajesh Kumar, counsel for the petitioners, submitted an analysis of the contractors’ details submitted by BBMP. None of the contractors had Service Tax Numbers as required by law. 10 of the PAN numbers were fake, and same PAN numbers were used for different entries (all from same families). Many private contractors take the dry waste to resell, while throwing wet waste indiscriminately. Ajesh Kumar added that Bangalore Development Authority should give priority for Solid Waste Management centres while allocating Civic Amenity sites in its layouts.
In response to this, N Kumar ordered that a few contractors, “who run the garbage show,” be present in the next hearing. He also asked why the building waste was still going to Mandur, and why an alternative place was not identified. He directed the counsel for KSPCB to speed up the permission process, to ensure there is a separate landfill for construction debris.
60 wards did not conduct Ward Committee meetings
BBMP submitted that Ward Committee meetings took place in 138 wards. The Judge asked what are the rest of the wards doing. At this point, Priya Ramasubban from Bellandur ward explained her experience as a ward committee member.
There were ward committee meetings initially in Bellandur ward. Corporator and officials did not support when the ward committee members started stressing on segregation of waste. The volunteers and ward committee members managed to get segregation in place in 10,000 houses, but when they wanted to replicate the model in a nearby village they were stopped by persons with political interest. “We are a toothless body, we don’t have power to do anything,” she added.
Weed out the non-functioning corporators!
The Bench observed that the corporators who did not conduct meetings should be named, and people and NGOs should show their power to such corporators by “weeding them out” during elections. Such corporators’ name should be put on the website, the Bench suggested. “When the councillors, become the hurdle in solving problems, it speaks about the sorry state of affairs and the helplessness of the public. These councillors are unfit to hold the post and they should be shown the door,” the Bench added. The Bench ordered that the BBMP should circulate the copies of this order to all corporators.
More DWCCs, decentralised systems
Darpan Jain, Special Commissioner for Solid Waste Management, explained the steps BBMP took to ensure speedy resolving of garbage crisis. BBMP has invited applications for empanelment of vendors for various waste streams.
He also said BBMP will find land in all zones and start processing firms, using its own funds. He added that all vehicles would be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) for monitoring. He also submitted that there will be efforts to include more and more decentralised ward-level units by the BBMP for processing waste. He sought time to study the modalities of fining people for non-segregation.
When asked by the Judge about the status of Dry Waste Collection Centres, Darpan Jain said that as many as 151 DWCCs have been set up. 74 are run by NGOs, while 61 are run by contractors and other agencies. The income from DWCCs was Rs 1.26 crore /month, while expenditure was Rs 1.09 / month. When the Judge asked him when the rest of the wards will get DWCCs, BBMP Commissioner Lakshminarayan said that 20-26 more centres have been identified for more DWCCs.
The Commissioner added that the response from all MLAs was excellent, while some corporators were supportive and others were not.
K S Satyamurthy, Urban Development Secretary, spoke about Plasma technology which was supposed to be advanced and used in America for producing electricity from waste by burning it. The judge said burning should not be considered at all as it releases toxic pollutants into the air.
At this point Almitra Patel, Expert Committee member, said that biomining is the simplest form of clearing the garbage with low cost and material recovery. She also suggested that BBMP should start unloading whatever waste they can into the windrows and turn the windrow, instead of waiting for a new firm, so that 160 tonnes of waste gets processed per day. This will also help in stopping flies and odour control, she added.