By Arshreet Singh
Only 3 km separate the neighborhoods of Chickpet and D’Souza Layout. The difference in the amount of garbage on the streets of these neighborhoods is astonishing. While the streets of D’Souza Layout resemble those in a European village, Chickpet’s streets are lined with heaps of garbage.
A huge pile of garbage covering half the road was dumped in front of Kishore Kumar’s Ashok Silk Creations on Jumma Masjid Road, Chickpet. “The state of the dump is permanent,” he said. “This is a designated garbage spot. The BBMP cleans it occasionally, but since this is a designated spot, residents of this area dump more garbage the next day. I am scared of dengue and tired of the smell.”
Explaining why garbage collection in the area is inadequate, Kishore said there are too many people there. The streets are narrow and full of parked scooters. “There is no way a garbage collection vehicle can enter these streets.”
Rizwan Ahmed, owner of a jewellery shop on Avenue Road in Chickpet, shared: “The garbage dump in front of my shop has been here for three days now. Shopkeepers dump garbage here at night, and collection is irregular.”
Street vendors also throw disposable plates and cups during the night.
A dump of garbage has existed in front of Prasanna Suresh’s Designer Studio ever since it opened one and a half years ago. “My shop is full of mosquitoes, and there is always a risk of dengue. I have complained to the traffic police but nothing has happened. My customers complain about the smell and the mosquitoes, but there is nothing I can do,” said Prasanna, visibly upset with the situation.
Chickpet, Raja Market, National Games Village and Inner Ring Road from Sony Signal to Domlur are notorious for their garbage menace. Dubbed “black-spots”, these areas contrast prominent neighborhoods of Bengaluru in cleanliness.
The Observer found Mahatma Gandhi Road, a popular destination, to be completely clean. Multiple bins for segregated waste dotted the road.
N T Ramchand, who sells clothes on the road, said: “People who come here have standards. Even if dustbins were present in Chickpet, people wouldn’t use them.”
BBMP Assistant Executive Engineer (Solid Waste Management) Santosh Kaddi, who administers Chickpet and BTM Layout, explained: “Chickpet and Raja Market have a floating population. Farmers and traders come from all over the state, and they throw garbage indiscriminately.… Even if we keep bins here, people will throw garbage around the bins, not in them.”
“The real issue is ‘high-class’ vs ‘low-class’ people,” he added.
Shanthi Tummala, founder of HSR Zero Waste Initiative and a member of Solid Waste Management Round Table, has been working towards reducing waste for a decade. She gave three primary reasons for the garbage menace in Chickpet and Raja Market.
“The first reason is collection,” she said. “Irregular collection of waste creates garbage dumps in the neighbourhood. The second reason is that in spite of collection, people behave irresponsibly. BBMP only collects segregated waste, and people don’t want to take the pain of segregation, so they dump the garbage on the streets. And the third reason is lack of enforcement.”
HSR Layout has succeeded in waste management because more than 95% of trash is segregated by its residents, she explained: “We issued nine penalties today. You can be penalized for mixing garbage, using single-use plastics or getting caught red-handed littering.”
Asked why Chickpet and Raja Market are doing worse than HSR Layout in waste collection, Tummala said: “These areas have a floating population. No one believes it’s their area. What these areas need is awareness, and disciplined marshals who patrol the area at night time. A fear of law needs to be established.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel. The city has Dry Waste Segregation Centres for recycling. BBMP has appointed marshals in almost every ward. Bengaluru can get itself rid of the garbage problem through massive awareness campaigns and strict enforcement of laws.