While the dumpyard near the river bank is perfectly legal, the garbage is a huge problem for the residents and passers-by.
If you drive down the twisting roads of Kumbalgodu past Kengeri, the greenery abruptly breaks, presenting a grotesque visual of a river littered with garbage. Rag-pickers amble along the banks, plucking out what they can from the endless heaps. Cars and autos speed up, wanting to be away from the stink. The Vrishabhavathi river, atributary of the Akravathi river is in a sorry state.
Despite numerous protests, the Vrishabhavathi river bank in Kumbalgodu continues to be strewn with garbage. “We are reaching out to authorities. We found that the area is an officially notified dumping ground; we’re trying to get it denotified,” said Vinay, a resident of Gopalan Olympia society.
Legally, a residential building has to be 100 meters away from the river banks and a dumping ground. The society near the Vrishabhavathi river is more than 100 meters away. “By law, there is no crime here, but the garbage is a huge problem,” Vinay said.
Garbage burned in some places, causes health issues for the residents nearby. Arun, who used to go to the temple on the river bank regularly, said that he had stopped now. “I have asthma. The burning garbage makes me choke,” he said.
In April, the residents of Gopalan Olympia staged a protest to stop the burning. The burning has stopped, but the dumping is still a problem.
Once the lifesource of Western Bengaluru, the river reeks of filth and sewage today. “We have to roll up the windows when we drive past the river,” said Rahul, a resident of Kengeri. The once sacred river is now known as ‘Kengeri-mori’—the drain of Kengeri.
Officials from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) said that they are trying to resolve the issue. “We realise the dump yard is a problem for the locality and the river—we have plans to build a waste processing unit nearthe Jnanabharati campus of Bangalore University,” they said.
The river has been in the news many times, as there have been several initiatives for its clean-up. In 2019, around 12,000 people participated in a six-kilometer (km) run from Kengeri satellite town to Bangalore University Campus to raise awareness for the river’s rejuvenation.The government proposed a project of Rs 1500 crores to treat the waters of the river before they are released into the Byramangala Lake in 2021.
“If a dumping ground is right next to a river, obviously effluents are going to leach into it. This is terrible, not just for residents, but also for the crops which it irrigates and the wildlife in the area,” said Dr. A. N. Yellappa Reddy, the chairman of Bangalore Environment Trust.