Bangalore: One of India's showpiece cities for its salubrious climate and beautiful gardens, Karnataka's capital also came to be known in the last decade and a half as a global hub for outsourcing. But now it is struggling to avoid being labelled a 'garbage city' as it battles to deal with growing mountains of daily waste.
A feverish hunt is on for hundreds of acres of land to take the 5,000-odd tonnes of garbage generated daily by the city's over eight million population and also for organizations and technology that can help convert the waste to something useful - like energy or manure.
Pushing the city's lax civic authorities and millions of careless residents who exhibit a near-total lack of civic sense by dumping the waste they daily generate at street corners is the state high court.
State Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen was stinging in his observations on the way the municipality has handled the problem which peaked last month as thousands of tonnes of garbage were left to rot across Bangalore for over 10 days.
"The measures you have taken are just garbage.not one concrete step so far," he said while hearing a public interest petition.
He also told Bangalore citizens that it was their duty to segregate waste.
Also helping the cleanliness cause is the approaching elections to the state assembly, due in May next but which may be held earlier, possibly in December.
This possibility, coupled with court's anger over a stinking Bangalore, is pressuring the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is ruling Karnataka and Bangalore civic body for the first time, to look for ways to keep the city garbage-free.
As a first step, the BJP-ruled BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or Greater Bangalore City Corporation) announced Thursday that segregation of waste at home is a must from Oct 1. Failure will be punished with a penalty. The penalty amount is being finalized.
The decision to make wet and solid waste segregation compulsory at homes and levy a fine for failure has come in the wake of the high court directive.
The BBMP is also thinking of placing garbage clearance under 'sakala' (Kannada for on time) scheme aimed at time-bound service.
The 'sakala' scheme was introduced in April covering over 150 services like getting a driver's licence, birth and death certificates and land records. Time-frames ranging from three to 30 days have been set for the delivery of these services. Officials who fail to comply will be fined.
Bangalore Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy assured that once the civic body brings garbage clearance under 'sakala', the waste has to be cleared within 24 hours of a complaint being lodged. If this is not done, the official concerned and the contractor assigned the job will be fined.
Other measures to be put in place for a clean Bangalore include buying or leasing 200 acres around the city for landfills and engaging non-governmental organizations and private firms to turn the waste into energy or manure.
Hopefully the court's rap and the approaching elections will force not only the ruling BJP but also the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular to be effective in finding a lasting solution to prevent 'Brand Bangalore' from being buried in mounds of stinking garbage.