Waste management raises a stink in council meeting
Sadresh, a class six student, shared his suggestions for the betterment of the city with Mayor Sampath Raj, during the lunch break for councillors, on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: Deepika K C
Some councillors also voiced the problems faced by pourakarmikas
Garbage-ridden streets, blackspots, and waste-bins filled to the brim waiting to be picked up and disposed off are apparently not pet peeves only of citizens. Issues in waste management dominated the monthly council meeting of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday, a day before the civic body presents the budget.
Many councillors complained of having to bear the brunt of complaints from residents about garbage-related problems. Some of them also raised problems faced by pourakarmikas.
“What is the logic of having one pourakarmika for every 700 people? How will they manage?” asked some while others complained of pushcarts for pourakarmikas not arriving on time, and of their salaries not being paid for months.
Mayor R. Sampath Raj told them that the pourakarmika-to-people ratio was well thought out. “It has been calculated based on statistics that say each street has around 50 houses, and each house has around five people. Each pourakarmika takes care of four or five streets,” he said.
But that failed to convince councillors, who pointed out that the city’s population had seen a steady increase, and so had the number of houses in each building, making it difficult for pourakarmikas to manage collection of such a huge quantum of waste.
Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad assured councillors, who complained of unpaid salaries, that the matter had been taken care of. He said the palike had started direct payment of salaries to 6,000 pourakarmikas and ₹27 crore had been released this week.
Another topic that came up for discussion was the rising discontentment of residents around waste processing plants, with the focus on the KCDC unit. The commissioner said KCDC officials will be called for a meeting on how to prevent the stench from the plant. The Mayor said a special meeting will be called to discuss problems related to waste management.
The BBMP has asked the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to furnish full details on the availability of water this summer, and the allotment for each zone. The Mayor said recent media reports of a possible water shortage in the city had caused large-scale apprehensions among people, and asked the BWSSB to give details before the first week of March.
A BWSSB official said nodal officers will be deputed to the BBMP to attend to water supply and sewage complaints.
Councillors seek pay hike
Councillors utilised the opportunity to seek a benefit not just for their wards, but also for themselves. Many pitched for a hike in their salary, a demand the Mayor said would be forwarded to the State government. The Mayor said the salary of a councillor is around ₹7,000 a month.
Young environmentalist steals the show
It is not uncommon for the general public to be interested in how a council meeting works. But the visitors’ and press gallery had an unlikely visitor on Tuesday.
A young boy carrying four copies of a book waited patiently for the meeting to conclude. As the council dispersed for lunch and Mayor R. Sampath Raj made his way out of the meeting hall to address waiting mediapersons, the bespectacled boy sought an audience.
He introduced himself to ‘Mayor uncle’ as Sadrsh S. Keshava, ‘a climate champion from Yelahanka’, and said he had some recommendations to make.
All television cameras were trained on him as he started doling out his observations and suggestions, which ranged from putting to use used plastic bottles to planting more trees to make up for every tree that is cut.
Sadrsh managed to make the Mayor promise that he will walk the talk when it comes to promises made for a better environment.
Later in the day, his father B.K. Subbaramu said that his son, a class six student who chose to drop out of school in favour of home schooling because he was not satisfied with the education in school, was always discussing the environment. “If he sees someone in a car with the AC on, he questions them. I don’t know where his interest stems from,” he said.