How ‘scientific’ is BBMPs Mavallipura Municipal Solid Waste Landfill?
In 2003, BBMP started open dumping of Bangalore’s garbage on farmland leased from Bylappa, a local farmer. Over 200 truckloads of un-segregated waste was dumped every day for over four years. The waste was a mix of Municipal, Hazardous and Biomedical waste, and probably industrial waste as well.
Families of Ragpickers, dogs, birds and pigs scavenged on these hills of garbage all day, scattering it further. No one knows how sick these ragpickers have become.
The waste caught fire periodically due to the latent thermodynamic heat generated by the waste as it decomposed. Bylappa and his men also burnt of quite a bit of the waste to decrease volume of the waste, increase capacity of his “landfill” and also as a peculiar measure to ward off millions of flies, mosquitos and other disease carrying vectors. Easily, toxic contaminants become air-borne. To keep the fire down, tankers of water were used everyday to extinguish the fire, and the highly toxic water leached out to contaminate soil and water. It was a mess.
The toxic leachate from this illegal dump was allowed to collect in trenches/ponds and lakes around the garbage dump. Over time, all surface and ground water bodies were contaminated beyond acceptable levels. ESG conducted a water analysis of many surface and well waters in and around Mavallipura during 2006 and the results reveal that all waters bodies downstream of this site are heavily contaminated .
The dumping created severe stench, problem of mosquitoes and flies all around the village of Mavallipura and the contaminated water caused severe health impacts in 2006
Meanwhile, farming became impossible. Local villagers who depended on farming lost their livelihoods and many even took to scavenging recyclables on the garbage piles for a living. The situation was no better for cattle rearers, as their grazing pastures were taken away, and many ended up scavenging waste for a living.
In 2006 Dalit Sangharsh Samithi (S) brought this extensive and criminal pollution of village lands to the notice of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. The Board initiated criminal proceedings against Bylappa, but did not pursue the matter to finality. As a result the pollution continued and BBMP got away scot free for their criminal act of polluting village lands.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department suddenly woke up to the fact that Bylappa’s landfill was not on his land, but on a State Forest – Jarakabande Kaval. In an attempt to recover forest land, they set on fire the waste that had accumulated for four years now. It burned continuously for several days releasing toxic gases that blew over the entire region of Bangalore North. Forest Department also initiated criminal proceedings against Bylappa, but did not pursue it to finality. BBMP was not sued!
Meanwhile, BBMP acquired the abutting gomaal land (grazing pasture) to establish a scientific landfill. This project was contracted to M/s Ramky and construction commenced in 2006. However, no permissions were taken from the Local Panchayat, or from three airports in close proximity of the proposed landfill: Yelahanka Air Force Base (5 kms.), Jakkur Airfield (7 kms.) and Bangalore International Airport (19 kms.). Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules mandated that airports should be at least 20 kms. from landfills – and that presumes well managed landfills.
Bangalore’s garbage threatens India’s Defense Yelahanka Air Force – only 5 kms. away
Dhruv co-pilot dies in pre-aero show crash Jangveer Singh Tribune News Service Bangalore, February 2, 2007 The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) acrobatic team “Sarang” suffered a setback following a crash during rehearsals for the forthcoming Aero India show resulting in the death of a co-pilot of a Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) today morning. The crash, which occurred at 9.45 am, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station here, resulted in head injuries to both the co-pilot Sq Ld Priye Sharma and the Captain Wg Cdr V Jetley. Both were taken to the IAF’s Command hospital here where Sq Ld Priye Sharma (32) succumbed to his injuries two hours later. Wing Commander Jetley is under observation for 72 hours. Sq Ld Priye Sharma is married and hails from Patna in Bihar. An IAF spokesaman, Wg Cdr Raghunathan told TNS that the accident occurred when the helicopter, being flown by both the pilots, lost height suddenly. He said no other copter was involved in the accident and that the team was conducting a normal practice session prior to the acrobatic display scheduled during the Aero India show, which starts on February 7. The IAF spokesman said the cause of the crash could not be ascertained till now and added that a court of inquiry had been formed to look into the accident. This is the first time that there has been a fatal crash of the ALH during an acrobatic session. Meanwhile, the crash has raised questions whether the Sarang team will put up a display at the Aero India show. Sources said the team could be withdrawn from the aero show. However, the IAF spokesman said it was too early to comment on this right now and that an appropriate decision would be taken in Delhi soon. Sarang is the helicopter formation display team of the IAF, one of only three in the world, the others being two British teams; the Blue Eagles of the Army Air Corps and the Black Cats of the Royal Navy. The team flies three HAL Dhruvs. The team was formed in October 2003 and their first public performance was at the Asian Aerospace Show, Singapore, 2004. Most of the Sarang pilots are former Siachen pilots who have been flying in and around the high-altitude and arduous areas of Leh.
Much against the MSWM Rules, Ramky began receiving wastes and bean dee filling it into a massive pit. This was not segregate wastes, but all kinds of waste. Dumping was done with least regard for appropriate management and treament. For BBMP, because the waste was out of sight, the problem was solved. It sent more truckloads of waste to be dumped in Mavallipura.
Ramky’s landfill is in patent violation of the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2000 and the Aircraft Act. It lacks a processing unit. There is no bioreactor to convert compostible waste to energy. There is simply no effluent treatment plant to treat the leachates. Barring in a small landing area, almost all the waste is dumped into dug up pits without any precautions of constructing impermeable layers as prescribed in the MSW rules. Contamination of water is happening all the time.
Within a few months, the incomplete landfill, which lacks all scientific layers of protection, was filled with truck loads of waste. Mountains of waste is left open, attracting hundreds of scavenging birds and dogs. This is seriously contaminating air all around the dumpsite, making it unlivable for villages around. This is criminal negligence on the part of Ramky and the BBMP
As the dumped waste decomposes, the leachates formed are let out into ponds that are completely unprotected. As there is no effluent treatment plant, these ponds ooze out the toxic waters into wells, streams, tanks, contaminating with deadly effect everything it flows through. Exposure to such toxicity has severely increased the health risks of people living in and around Mavallipura. Cancer and kidney failures, which were unknown to the local villagers, have become commonplace. Young adults and children are at particular risk. Heart problems and pyrogenic Meningitis have manifested in children.
The deadly concoction of the leachate is slowly permeating through the soil, contaminated surface and groundwater bodies in downstream areas and the pollution plume has reached Arkavathi from where Bangalore receives water to drink. The cycle of contamination is tragically complete.
While disease causing pathogens such as Bacteria and Viruses thrive on garbage, mosquitoes, flies, rodents and dogs act as vectors increasing the risk to public health from these garbage dumps. Microscopic bacteria, virus and fungi can grow on organic debris such as food leftovers, diaper wastes, household medical wastes and a range of other organic material in the waste. Toxic gases and toxins in water and soil are dangerous DNA mutants. Mavallipura’s children are chronically sick as a result.
Airborne Fungal Diseases Acute allergic alveolitis (various fungal and actinomycete spores) Fungal or actinomycete spores from decomposing organic matter (composts, grain stores, hay, etc.) Aspergillosis ( Aspergillus fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger ) Fungal spores inhaled from decomposing organic matter
Hapless residents of Mavallipura are suffering from Pyogenic meningitis, Cancer, Kidney Failure and paediatric heart problem. Families are running from pillar to post to save their dear ones and have already run into debt. Some are even selling their land to get medical help. Who is responsible for this? Will Bengaluru wake up to this? Will there be justice for these communities? Will BBMP own up and clean up this mess?
Simple Solution to a big problem-Segregate at Source Biodegradable Hazardous & Biomedical Recyclable Segregation helps recover recyclable material like plastics and metals. Biodegradable waste can be composted to make manure. Only hazardous waste needs to be disposed in a scientific land fill.