Debris waste, a major cause of pollution, has only one under-utilized Construction and Development (C&D) waste recycling plant in the city.
Bengaluru: If you’re on the Ulsoor Road stretch, within a couple of minutes a thin layer of dust will cover your phone like a screen guard. This thin layer, which you would casually wipe off on your jeans is one of the major causes of pollution in the city.
Street vendors on this road complain of the pollution. Stones, boulders and mud are dumped on the roadside making it difficult to walk around the area. Garden Care, a nursery on the Ulsoor Road stretch is covered in dust. Plants outside the nursery look withered and dusty. “The moment we open the nursery every morning, dust settles in everywhere, it’s really bad, it’s impacting what we sell,” said John who works at the nursery.
Bengaluru generates around 2,500 metric tonnes of Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste every day owing to all the infrastructure projects in the city. There is only one operational C&D waste processing plant in Bengaluru in Chikkajala, on the outskirts of the city. “We process around 200 tonnes of C&D waste daily, this is all we get,” said Rajesh K, the owner of Rock Crystals, the plant in Chikkajala.
He said that the problem is with the owners as they don’t bring all the waste to the processing plant every day. “We charge Rs 134 per ton, including 18 per cent of GST,” he added.
“Whatever debris that is generated from the construction project, we give it back to the owners, and they are responsible for disposing of it,” said Raju, a contractor working for the cricket stadium in the BGS International Residential School.
Even though Rock Crystals has signed a contract with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in 2019 to build another plant in Kannur village in east Bengaluru under a Public-Private Partnership, it is not operational yet.
The bigger problem is the lack of dumping sites. Ulsoor Road pollution is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many places like Ulsoor Road where debris is strewn without proper regulation, despite an official notification by the BBMP notifying that dumping C&D waste irresponsibly will invoke a fine of Rs one lakh.
C&D waste has been dumped everywhere throughout the city and it’s not recycled or processed. The road near Indiranagar Metro Station has debris on both sides.
“All the residents on the road protested against the dumping of C&D waste on the lake road, and the BBMP promised to take action, but nothing has been done so far,” said Puttaswamy, the owner of Garden Care.
“Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) take up a lot of projects and this adds to the C&D waste,” said a BBMP official.
“The problem is with the builders, we’re issuing notices to all those builders who are dumping C&D waste on the roads and lakebeds and to all of them who are not taking it to the processing plant in Chikkajala, this should be resolved soon,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner (Waste Management) of BBMP. He added that they have plans to start C&D processing plants in the south zone too.
Sandhya Rao, co-founder of Citylab Blr, an independent urban architect firm said that there are designated landfills in the city to dump the C&D waste. “We are supposed to use the residue waste in other building projects but that rarely happens, it mostly gets dumped or it’s bought for low prices to build doors and windows,” she said. “This whole process should be mandated at a policy level, otherwise the pollution will not come down.”
“The problem is with extensive urbanization and government authorities who don’t take necessary action. If they do, we would not have to face this situation about lakes in the city,” said Vijay Nishanth, an environmentalist based in Bengaluru.