77 year old Badrinath Vittal is a retired civil engineer from NIE Mysore and an alumni of @iitbombay, but he has not given up work. Back to Bengaluru, he rues that the city has changed a lot and transformed into a 'city of garbage' and is no more a 'city of gardens'.
A door-to-door maneuver
"Some have ignored me, some listened and some shoo me as if I am a beggar. However, I am happy that a lot of people responded" said Vittal. He has also visited schools and colleges and was elated to inform that the response has been largely positive.
"So the basic difference lies in knowledge. People are not aware of the hazards of littering. They do not know how to segragate wet waste and dry waste and how they can be used. But, the worst part is they are not willing to listen. Unless and until the government is serious about this mission, no one can help," he said.
"I managed to get 1500 signatures, but that is not enough to shake the BBMP out of slumber. So, I decided to go for an online campaign with change.org and am looking forward to 50,000 signatures," he said.
Since he is not tech-savy, he says, "I do not know how to reach out to the people". But that hasn't stopped him either. He requested a junior volunteer to use the existing App of Swachch Bharat, and help in mapping the garbage to the municipal authorities so that they can come and clean it. "But even that was not entertained by the officials," he rued.
"Moreover, there are people in my household like the milkman, the maid, the dhobi and the rickshaw puller who wish to help but do not have online access or do not know how to read and write. We need help for them too," he said.
Once he collects the signature, he wishes to send the petition to the CM of Karnataka. Ironically, Vittal has been trying to reach out to him through www.karnataka.gov.in. but he complains that it is not open to general public.
"What is the use of a government site, if it is not open for general public redressal," Vittal said. Now, knowing about Twitter, he has started following @CMofKarnataka and @bbmpcommr in the hope that someday somebody would response.
The BBMP negligence
Describing how the BBMP is negligent toward garbage disposal, Vittal says there are trucks taking away garbage from the roads, but they dispose the garbage in a village or some other street. Same holds true for the garbage carts that are driven manually. "What is point then? garbage here and garbage there makes no difference," he said.
He has tried to reach out to the CM of Karnataka through mail, the Commissioner of Police, municipal corporators through mail, but to no use. They never got back.
The pourakarmikas come, but are very irregular and the neighborhood unconvincing. "Nobody is willing to store garbage in the backyard and wait for the vans to come. They resort to throwing garbage on the roads," said VIttal. He further said,"have you ever seen a dustbin on any of the streets? I haven't. Even the metro stations did not have it for quite some time. It is heart-breaking."
Badarinath Vittal is not alone in this journey, ex-Corporator Pramila Baliga and a senior executive in an MNC-Veena Rajappa and also a volunteer at CGMT too have campaigned for the cleanliness drive.
Pramila Baliga, for example started a biogas plant of her own and arranged to collect all the garbage from her vicinity to convert it into renewable gas and transform to energy. However, the authorities stopped the functioning of the plant for some reason.
Similarly, Veena Rajappa has been going around from door to door enlightening people in apartments about wet and dry waste.
"People responded positively, but that was short-termed. The mantra is to maintain the interest and retain cleanliness. I have uploaded a video on Youtube, demonstrating how cleanliness can help you in your daily lives."
Bengaluru has a population of about 10 million and the per capita solid waste generation is about half a kilogram. Thus, the city generates 5,000 tonnes of garbage everyday with just 14,000 pourakarmikas or sweepers. Add to it, the 9000 workers of private contractors.
The garbage, after being collected is deposited at the Mandur village, which too has now been stopped as the residents complain of stench here.
Following this, the BBMP officials had to resolve the issue so they sent a team to Sweden to attend a workshop on garbage disposal technology there, given the fact that the country leads in it. After just a few sessions, the officials came back saying that the technology is expensive and crosses the state's budget. Ironically, the state exchequer has to spend 480 crores for garbage transportation itself.
Bengaluru produces 5,000 tonnes of garbage everyday and has just 23,000 sweepers
"Even open letters to the Mayor of Bengaluru did not help," said Vittal, "who else can help then? We have to take things in our own hands now. Build compost pits in our own backyard and use it as manure. Let's reduce the usage of plastic and segregate the waste properly before disposing off. Best is to store the waste till the garbage truck arrives," suggested Vittal.
However, what Vittal is waiting for is help from fellow Bengalurians, their signature and their support in the move. If you think, you can help him and your city of love, reach out and post comments on his facebook profile or leave a message at his twitter handle @VittalBadrinath. But, please do not forget to sign the petition at Change.org.
Wake up Bangaloreans, let's make Bangalore a garden city together!