November 2, 2021 6:59:00 pm
In the run up to the 2018 assembly polls, Bommanahalli BJP candidate Satish Reddy and Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar had promised to the residents of Somasundarapalya to shut down the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) plant located in the vicinity if the BJP were voted to power.
The KCDC is the oldest such plant run by the civic agency, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), since 1975.
Three years down the line, the stench emanating from the plant has continued to be a bone of contention between the residents and the administration. Although BBMP officials claimed that they use lemongrass spray and have installed bio-filter to contain the bad odour, locals were not impressed with the measures.
A local resident, Srinath Shenoy, said, “When the government has banned the use of 15-year-old vehicles, what is the rationale behind operating such an old plant? This plant has become a serious health issue for all of us. Is there no respect for people living here?”
Another resident, Manoj Kuzhikali, said that several families have moved out of Somasundarapalya over the years to escape the stench emanating from the plant.
The residents alleged that the bio-filter commissioned in 2016 to contain the odour does not function properly. Untreated sewage from the plant also directly enters the storm water drain connected to Somasundarapalya lake.
A senior BBMP official in the Solid Waste Management department stated that the capacity of the plant is 500 tonnes but it is functioning at 130 tonnes owing to residents’ opposition.
“I will look into the allegations of the residents about the malfunctioning of the bio-filter. The state pollution control board has given us the consent to operate the plant,” a BBMP official said.
A senior citizen and a local resident, Ramakant Nargund, said that even after 74 years of Independence, he was fighting for the right to stay in a clean environment.
“Either the plant should be shut down or measures must be taken to contain the smell. It is becoming unbearable to stay within a 5-km radius of the plant. During heavy downpour, leachate comes out of the plant. It is a serious health hazard,” he added.
Notably, a Joint Action Team (JAT) was formed on September 16, 2017, comprising officials of BBMP, KCDC and the residents. Although the team was expected to hold a meeting every fortnight, residents said that meetings are conducted only after they make repeated requests.
In 2018, the members of the Resident Welfare Association of Kudlu, Haralukunte, Hosapalya, Somasundarapalya and Parangipalya (KHHSP) filed a writ petition regarding the issue in the Karnataka High Court.
The writ petition was disposed of on February 22, 2019 with a direction to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to consider petitioners’ representation and to pass appropriate orders in accordance with the law, within six weeks from the date of the order.
However, the residents said the KSPCB did not pay heed to the order. The residents added that they have asked for the Action Taken Report (ATR) from the KSPCB, but the board never bothered to respond to them.
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