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Waste Discrimination

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A new garbage policy in Bangalore leaves flat owners fuming

After villagers around Bangalore protested to have landfills closed, the civic body, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), had made new rules for garbage clearance. It decreed that only wet garbage would be cleared from households daily. Other waste would be collected on designated days. The move has been lauded, by and large, except by one group—flat residents who are saying it discriminates against them.

Apartments with over 10 dwellings are now categorised as ‘bulk generators’ because they spew more than 100 kg of garbage per day. They have been clubbed with restaurants, hospitals, malls and office complexes. It means flat owners will not have their trash removed for the small fee of Rs 18. Not only do they have to pay more—the rate per flat will be fixed by zonal commissioners on the basis of the number of flats in a complex—but also have to install bio-compost units on their premises.

This policy, which came into force on 1 October, affects 15,000 residential complexes with an average of 25 apartments each. Apartment associations say this is discrimination. “In many complexes, there is hardly any common area in the basement or ground floor to set a bio compost unit. Also, it sets off a bad odour,’’ reasons K Sreedhar, a flat owner in the city’s Richmond Town area. “Earlier, we used to leave all waste in plastic covers at the gate, which was collected by BBMP personnel. Now, we have to segregate and even pay a higher levy,’’ says Harini N, a resident of an upscale apartment complex.

The new rules of waste segregation have also led to confusion. For example, residents have been told that milk sachets need to be rinsed with water before being packed off as dry waste. That means additional water consumption in a city facing a severe water shortage.

The BBMP is clear that the new rules should be given a try if the garbage crisis has to be addressed. BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel says kitchen and garden waste in apartments are piling up and they can be put to better use locally. “If they cannot construct a bio-waste unit, they will have to pay differential rates to either private contractors or the BBMP to clear it,’’ he says.