A significant population of Bangalore today follows western consumption patterns. It is not very difficult to find neighbourhoods and industrial areas with plush lawns, ornamental gardens and parks, glitzy tall buildings and hi tech apartment complexes. Amidst this picture is a small village in north Bangalore that is gasping for breath as the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), the city’s municipal corporation, has been unscientifically dumping around 200 truckloads of waste every day since May 2003. The land for this dumpyard has has been taken on a lease from a farmer in the village of Mavallipura, paid handsomely for providing his land in this way.
None of the other villagers were consulted in the process. They realized very soon that not only was the dump bringing them a variety of diseases, but that the unsegregated waste as it decomposed released toxic sludge and slurry into water bodies that were used for drinking and agriculture.
Villagers soon began to suffer form a variety of health problems such as allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, repeated intestinal infections, diarrhea, sleeplessness, cough and upper respiratory tract infections. The affected communities are clear that the cause for these ailments is the dumping and burning of solid waste at this illegal waste dumping site. Water analysis (PDF - 1.6 MB) has confirmed that the leachates and runoff have severely contaminated ground and surface water aquifers. A very high count of coliform bacteria was found in the sample 200m from the dumping site. The samples showed more than the permissible levels of other parameters, including heavy metals in some of the samples.
While the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules are in place and the Supreme Court has required major urban areas to have scientific landfills in place by December 2005, the villagers of Mavallipura continue to suffer on account of this illegal waste dump authorized by the City Municipality without any clearances from Statutory Environmental Regulatory agencies.
ESG has been closely monitoring the issue and has supported the local community in causing the intervention of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, which has recently initiated criminal proceedings against the farmer for leasing our the lands for this illegal dump in violation of all norms. ESG is now keen to include BMP (city corporation) as another agency for initiating criminal proceedings.
ESG has been consistently surveying this region to document the amount of waste that is illegally dumped and also to develop possible avenues of compensation for the victims. An attempt is also being made to estimate the extent and kinds of toxic and hazardous wastes find its way into this dump site, with a view to helping the local communities to leverage their cause against such unscientific and illegal practices.
ESG is an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes the cause of environmental and social justice through research, documentation, advocacy, training and campaign support. We aim to support the rights of local communities and voiceless ecosystems in a responsible, progressive manner that keeps contextual complexities in mind.