Bengaluru’s waste threatens environment on the periphery

Lack of garbage segregation continues to haunt Bengaluru’s peripheries, with wet waste treatment plants on the city’s outskirts flouting rules. In the latest, environment authorities have found violations at the Chikkanagamangala plant with regard to processing of waste and treatment of leachate.

Set up in 2015, the plant handles wet waste from 60 wards, estimated at 300 to 350 tonnes per day (TPD). The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered an inspection following protests against the alleged pollution caused by the plant.

A joint committee of officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, central and state pollution control board which inspected the facility flagged “gross violations” which will have implications for the environment.

Also Read | BSWML floats tenders for collection, transportation of waste again

Treatment of leachate

Among the major violations was non-compliance with regard to treatment of leachate — the liquid waste. A lab test showed that it contained “high concentration” of pollutants, including heavy metals like manganese, lead and zinc.

As per the conditions stipulated during the consent given to operate the plant, the BBMP had to set up an in-house leachate treatment plant (LTP) by April 2021. Until such time, the plant was allowed to treat leachate at BWSSB’s sewage treatment plants.

But the committee found that the plant started sending leachate to a private company called Enviro Solutions. The leachate was carried in private vehicles which were not fitted with GPS devices.

“It is apprehended that the transporting vehicles may dump leachate elsewhere. Such a situation may lead to nuisance/crippling of the environment,” the committee said.

The committee said it was a gross violation on the part of the plant authorities to change the processing arrangements without prior approval from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. 

Sources in the BBMP said the plant was the best among similar facilities of the BBMP. “It is way better than all others we have. It’s a plant equipped with an impermeable floor which has helped in stopping contamination of soil and groundwater. There are other facilities that many plants in Bengaluru don’t have,” a source said.

An official said they were yet to go through the joint committee report.

“The in-house leachate treatment will commence in two months. We will definitely make it the best plant in the city. But that’s not the solution. The real problem is the lack of garbage segregation at the source. About 55 per cent of the 4,500 tonnes waste is dumped and we are told to segregate it. It doesn’t work that way. Only when people start segregating will we have solutions,” he said.

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