In what appears to be a recurring problem, Kundalahalli garbage dump, which is adjacent to the newly rejuvenated Kundalahalli lake, caught fire on March 13, again. In the past month, there have been several instances where the 10-acre dumping ground burnt for days.
About a decade ago, the dump yard was an open ground where children would come to play. Now, the seven-story garbage mountain has medical waste, organic & inorganic waste, e-waste and sanitary waste. Other than being adjacent to the Kundalahalli lake, the yard also overlooks two important tech parks.
“Rain will make it worse”
Although the raging fire has been doused, smoke bellows from the dump. Akhilesh Mishra, engineer and social worker who has been voicing concern over the toxicity of the garbage dump for some time now, told The Logical Indian, “Just a few days back we called a JCB and put fresh soil on top of the mound, so that it does not catch fire again. Yet, the fire started blazing on Wednesday again. It will keep burning until and unless more soil is poured on top of it, which can completely cut out the oxygen supply.”
The yard is owned by Karnataka cabinet minister D K Shivakumar and six other. Mishra is of the opinion that the political and BBMP nexus is what led to the creation of the mount. He alleges that the politicians may be setting the garbage on fire, so that they can clear the land for an upcoming IT park.
We spoke to a tea seller in the vicinity who shared the same concern. “They come at night to dump the waste and light the fire,” he says on the condition of anonymity, ”by morning all that’s left is stench.” “What should we do?” He asks helplessly.
“The smoke burns our eyes and throat. The stench burns our nose. There are 12,000 people who travel on the adjacent road every day,” Mishra says. “ I am worried about the rain. The moment it starts raining there will be landslides and the garbage will cover the road,” he adds.
In 2018, residents along with the IT companies rejuvenated the Kundalahalli lake as a part of their Corporate Social responsibility. The rejuvenation was done so well that the project received the National Water Award for the year 2018, by Union Ministry of Water Resources under the best resident welfare association (RWA) category.
With monsoon around the corner, the entire garbage will now go into the lake again.
CCTV cameras don’t help
At night, the BBMP garbage trucks come and dump tonnes of waste. There are four ragpicker families who stay in makeshift huts inside the yard. They usually segregate the waste and even set it on fire at times.
Although two CCTVs were installed by the tech parks to monitor the illegal dumping and burning, but no action has been taken against the trucks or the ragpickers.
Seth, the security guard in the yard told The Logical Indian “I can’t sit or sleep peacefully at night. The number of mosquitoes can almost kill me. The stench also makes it unbearable.”
With continued apathy from BBMP and politicians, the onus lies with the citizens to responsibly handle and dispose waste. Waste segregation is already mandatory in the city, and hence, we, citizens should follow through. The Logical Indian hopes that such toxic fires are attended to and the land is utilized for a better purpose.