Who do we call when waste collection system fails?

I have been working closely with the door-to-door collection in our ward, with the residents on the one hand, the garbage collectors and the BBMP officials on the other hand. There is one question that always comes up within a few minutes of interaction. Who do we call, if the auto guy does not turn up for collection? If a house in our street is not segregating? if somebody is found dumping? If the sweeper is burning leaves? If the black spot near my house is not cleared?

A dump in Malleshwaram Pic: Ramesh Sreekantan

A simple enough question — with no simple answers, it seems. Everyone has a past experience of no response, unresolved complaints and too much follow up.

So much of what the BBMP door-to-door collection does is in the nature of a service. So a closed loop system to take care of grievance redressal, feedback through appropriate response and action taken is key to managing the humongous task of ensuring efficient door-to-door collection system.

It starts with finding the right answer to the question — ‘Who do we call…?’

Complaint lodging mechanism with the BBMP

The  complaint lodging mechanism that exists needs to be addressed and strengthened.

Current system: Complaints are today made directly to the BBMP officials.

Problems with this are:

  1. This is essentially one-to-one communication. Only the person making the complaint and the BBMP officials know of the complaint, so we are dependent on the strength of the individual personalities (influential person etc) to get the complaint resolved.

  2. The BBMP officials are very often overwhelmed with the number and nature of  complaints. Receiving complaints directly can be unpleasant and puts officials on the defensive. It is possible that the officials receive too many complaints and cannot address it singly.

  3. It is also time-consuming to receive and answer many complaint calls. Officials’ time should be used for operations, not receiving complaints directly.

  4. There is no record / history of the complaint, therefore no data available on recurrent / chronic complaints, serious complaints, how many problems resolved/ unresolved etc. There is therefore no data available for taking action on the people responsible for the lapse.

  5. Escalation of the problem does not take place. Senior officers are kept unaware of the problems at the level of Assistant Executive Engineer, Assistant Engineer, Junior Health Inspector level, when it is not reported.

Role of the Control Room – BBMP for complaint redressal from citizens

Even though a Control Room exists, this is not addressing the problems effectively.

Current system:

  1. Every Zone has a Control Room. It is manned by an operator in two shifts. One telephone line and one wireless system.

  2. The operator registers the complaint manually in the register and passes it on through wireless / telephone to the concerned official.

  3. At present the Control Room West Zone has no wireless communication system.  The transmission tower is down. Officers are also not using their wireless systems and communicate on their phones.

  4. The Control Room, West receives only 25 complaints for the Zone in a week. The Control Room is presently used for paging officers, internal  communication/ information dissemination on meetings etc.

Problems with this are:

BBMP Control Rooms are weak and ineffective. They do not instill confidence in the public.  Information flow is non-existent. There is no closing of loop system on the complaint.

Suggested mechanisms to improve the functioning of the Control Room


  1. Complaints, grievances from the General Public should be registered with the Control Room.

  2. Complaints must have a computerised recording system, with a number generated for tracking each complaint

  3. Response time must be fixed for every category of complaint

  4. Trained operators should handle the call centres

  5. Review of pending complaints must be taken up by the Zonal level Officers on a daily basis

  6. Reports on complaints, which ward, nature, periodicity of complaints must be generated.

  7. Accountability and escalation protocols must be set up



  1. BBMP should set it up

  2. Independent complaint/ grievance platforms either through NGOs or citizen-operated



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About Sandya Narayanan 8 Articles
Sandya Narayan is a citizen of Bengaluru, and a member of Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT)