The failure to implement the 74th Amendment to the Constitution, enacted in 1992, is directly responsible for the garbage mess in the city. That’s the opinion of an expert on civic issues. The 74th Amendment sought to strengthen the urban local bodies.
But, “the centralisation of powers in the state has continued and has finally resulted in the garbage mess that is afflicting the city today,” said Leo Saldanha, co-ordinator of Environment Support Group (ESG), an NGO that deals with a variety of environmental and social justice initiatives.
The failure to devolve powers to the urban local bodies was because of the money involved in the functioning of the civic body, added Saldanha. The landfills wouldn’t have been there in the first place if the waste segregation was done at the source. Then, only 8-9 per cent of the waste would have needed a landfill. “But, with Rs 250 to be made on every tonne of waste transported, there has been no interest in dealing with the issue in the first place,” said Saldanha, adding “there’s been enough corruption in issuing contracts and for the transport of the garbage.”
Bangalore generates an estimated 3,000-4,000 tonnes of waste everyday from households and commercial establishments. This has meant that about 30,000-40,000 tonnes or so of garbage that would have otherwise been cleared over the last ten days or so remains uncleared.
The piling garbage has now claimed one official with Shankaralinge Gowda, the
BBMP commissioner, being shunted out to the Horticulture Department. He was replaced by the Karnataka State Industrial Investment Development Corporation MD Rajneesh Goel. But, it is status quo ante.
For nearly a fortnight, the BBMP’s disposal mechanism has been in a shambles in the face of stiff resistance from farmers in and around the three major landfills.
With garbage piling up in the city, Gowda was at the centre of a concerted drive to remove it over the past few days.
But, the issue has not cropped up overnight. It is a result of many years of failed attempts at an effective solid waste management.
“If we had begun segregating the waste into organic and inorganic at the source itself, we wouldn’t have come to this,” said Sujatha Mahalakshmi, project co-ordinator, Saahas, an NGO.
Around 70 per cent of this waste is organic. The balance is accounted for by inorganic and hazardous waste. Mahalakshmi added that people’s unwillingness to spend on segregating garbage was the chief reason for the issue boiling over.