High Court of Karnataka (HC) asked Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to be careful while choosing the lowest bidders while awarding tenders for biomining at Mandur, as many of them have failed in the past.
On June 18 2014, HC Green Bench Division comprising of Justice N Kumar and B V Nagarathna passed a series of orders in the SWM PIL filed in 2012 after the villagers of Mavallipura and Mandur stopped dumping of garbage.
HC accepted the suggestions of the Expert Committee on Solid Waste Management made on June 13, 2014, to adopt the method of biomining to clear the historical waste lying on the grounds on Mandur.
In order to expedite the work, the court ordered BBMP Commissioner Lakshminarayana, who was personally present at the proceedings, to immediately call tenders tomorrow. On June 25th, the court has asked the Commissioner to submit the list of contractors to whom the work will be given to carry out biomining and the conditions of the contract.
Court takes stock of the steps taken over a year
The court enquired with BBMP the status of Dry Waste Collection Centres (DWCC) that were to be set up in 198 wards. BBMP Commissioner responded that 146 DWCC have been set up out of which only 120 are functional.
The Bench asked the BBMP Commissioner about the rest of the DWCCs. The Commissioner said that in two or three months, construction of all centres will be completed. Along with this, four out of 15 biomethanisation plants will soon be established to treat the waste in the city in six months.
The court questioned BBMP whether the delay in setting up the plants, is finance or land. BBMP Commissioner responded that neither finance nor land is an issue, the locals living near the project do not want the plant to be set up in their vicinity, as they think it will stink.
Petitioner’s advocate Ajesh Kumar S told court that many a times, BBMP vehicles do not regularly collect waste from the doorsteps, hence residents dump their garbage on streets. At times, even when citizens duly segregate the waste, BBMP vehicles mix it up, the waste loiters within the city and eventually BBMP officials order Pourakarmikas to burn it, which leads to backyard burning.
The Bench primarily observed that inspite of giving timely directions (enforcing segregation at source, penalty for non-segregating of waste, setting up DWCC) for solving garbage issues, every authority has failed to follow the directions. “It is only when people take the law in hand and agitate or fast authority pays attention,” the court observed.
The nonperformance of the corporation officials who act hand in glove with the contractors was also discussed. However, the court felt it necessary that the house (BBMP) should set itself in order.
Simultaneously the court felt the need to educate people and explain and the waste should not leave their constituency. The court asked, “Why should outside people suffer for Bangalore’s waste? The contractors are only keen transporting the waste outside the city and become wealthy.”
Court said it is the responsibility of the people in power to identify waste processing land within their constituency. The dry waste should be collected and sold, while the wet waste should be treated and sold too. “The amount of money that processing of garbage will generate will suffice the BBMP,” the Bench remarked. Only the bio-medical waste should be incinerated or treated as per the act.
The court ordered the Corporation Commissioner to consult with MLAs and corporators to identify land for processing plants within their respective constituencies, who will also be answerable to court.
The Bench asked the BBMP Commissioner to take appropriate steps against people who interfere with the court order, whose actions will affect public at large.
Court asks State to provide solution for rowdies
BBMP commissioner tried to provide the court an overview of what BBMP is doing to ensure segregation. He explained the measures like providing two bags and one bin to each garbage auto, segregation levels going up etc, and went on to say that public protest is a hindrance in he process.
At this point, a resident of HSR layout came forward in front of the judges and asked permission to express her views. She said that citizens are willing to segregate, but BBMP failed to provide regular pick ups. There was no monitoring on the number of vehicles or manpower. Not even 30% of claimed vehicles and manpower exists actually on the ground, which causes the problem. She also added that after nearby residents sought the intervention of MLA, the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) had stopped its operation.
Nalini Shekhar, Co- founder of Hasirudala, an NGO that has formalised waste pickers submitted to the court that some of their team members and a resident of an apartment had become the victims of goondaism, in five areas – Whitefield, Marathahalli, Bellandur, HSR Layout and Bannerghatta.
Nalini told the court that they take two to three months to train the residents how to segregate the waste. She said, “Once we start operating the system, the contractor creates problem.” In one instance, the NGO’s waste collecting vehicle was hi-jacked. She also complained to have received life-threatening calls from the contractors and goondas. On approaching police, they refrained from filing the case, “as an MLA was involved in it,” added Nalini. The vehicle was released after negotiations with the contractor, she added.
She informed court that in the past, Hasirudala tried working together with the contractors but their methods of working wouldn’t match, hence they could not work together. In this regard, the court asked the State Government Advocate Pratibha R to ask the government how to deal with the rowdy elements in the society.
‘BBMP contracts expensive than package contracts’
Many submissions were made at the court on the occasion by many interested parties. Following the High Court’s order, BBMP had stopped tendering garbage contracts and instead had issued departmental contracts to manage the waste in the city. As per the ‘Qualitative Analysis of BBMP Submission on Costs on Solid Waste Management – June 2014’ report, Petitioner’s advocate Ajesh Kumar S brought to the notice of the court that the annual expenditure of the BBMP departmental contracts servicing 98 wards is Rs. 27 crores higher than the tendered contracts servicing 100 wards. Kumar highlighted that the cost per ton of the BBMP contracts was found to be doubled than the cost per ton of the tendered contract.
According to the same data, BBMP has spent Rs. 334 crores in 2013 only on collection and transportation of mixed waste which is nothing but environmental pollutant. Further analysis of the report brought to the light that only 1.5% was spent on DWCC while the rest 98.5% was spent on dumping mixed waste. Keeping in view the findings of the report, an Expert Committee member suggested that BBMP bring back the previous contract system.
Court to monitor the case weekly
Environment Support Group Co-founder Leo Saldanha and Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City (CIVIC) representative/ trustee Katyayani Chamraj, who had impleaded in the case submitted to the court that the Ward Committees formed on the instructions of HC have largely remained dysfunctional. They also brought to the notice of the court that the citizens are interested to be a part of the Ward Committees and help solve the issues.
The rules have given veto power to the Councillor to set aside any decision if he feels necessary and reserves the right to nominate the committee members. “This gives more power to the councillor who will nurture the mafia,” said Katyayani. Meetings scheduled with the Urban Development Secretary thrice did not take place finally due to various reasons, they added.
However, the Bench, decided to address the garbage issues one by one, and ordered the Principal Secretary of Urban Development Department, Member Secretary of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Managing director of KCDC to be present at every hearing, henceforth.
The Bench decided to monitor the issue of the Solid Waste Management weekly and set the next hearing date as 25th June.
This article was modified on July 2, 2014.