Bengaluru waste management crisis

Bangalore BBMP Capstone Environment

Bangalore: In recent years, Bangalore which looked like a beautiful painting has deteriorated slowly due to a lack of proper preservation. Streets in Bangalore are filled with waste, garbage spilling out of dumpsters, and dumping of garbage in lakes and ponds has become the new way of garbage disposal. To deal with this garbage crisis, certain rules have been laid down, but clearly not being implemented in a proper way.  

Municipal solid waste

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated from households, offices, hotels, and other institutions. The major components are food waste, paper, plastic, rags, metal and glass, although demolition and construction debris is often included in collected waste, as are small quantities of hazardous waste, such as electric light bulbs, batteries, automotive parts, and discarded medicines and chemicals.

According to the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, defines “municipal solid waste includes commercial and residential wastes generated in municipal or notified areas in either solid or semi-solid form excluding industrial hazardous wastes but including treated bio-medical wastes.”

It is imperative that one has to come up with ways to dispose of the waste so as to not harm the people or create a danger to the environment that we live in.

Bengaluru Waste Woes

Bengaluru has become the 7th city from Karnataka to be included in the list of smart cities. Despite being a smart city, Bengaluru doesn’t have the proper infrastructure as suggested by experts in solid waste management like T K Bandopadhyay to manage solid waste in Bengaluru. This will lead to an unprecedented crisis in the near future if not adequate attention provided to this challenge. The organization responsible for waste management in Bengaluru city is Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

BBMP dumping of waste into the nearby village has led to a severe challenge to the residents of Mavallipura villagers. Many residents of Mavallipura have either sold their property or remained as fallow land.

“BBMP started dumping solid waste from 2005 onwards this has led to serious health challenges to the villagers nearby and this has led to perpetual problems,” said, Manoranja Hegde. “After some time the number of cases of cancer, kidney failure, skin diseases is on the rise and water becomes undrinkable.”

The BBMP has closed that site in 2012 but in 7 years 10 lakhs tonnes of waste has been dumped as per the reports. An Environment Support Group (ESG) study in Mavallipura revealed the risk of heavy metals in water sources and the risk it poses.

According to the same Enviourment Support Group study each of the 12 villages in Shivakote gram panchayat has water purification units but water cannot be stored for more than two days for drinking.

Another resident Prasanna Kumar said, “The BBMP did nothing to control the damage and all they ever did was install a water purification plant and that too maintenance were stopped.” He told that “The prices of the nearby land fall drastically and we found very difficult to find the buyer. The land also becomes unsustainable for agriculture too and this means loss of land for farmers.”

An image of Muthagada Halli near Shivkote village. Credit: KPN

“Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) with an area of 2190 km2 and a population of about 10.18 million generates around 5000 metric tons per day of solid waste at an average generation rate of 0.5 kg per capita per day,” said Randeep D, Additional Commissioner Solid Waste Management (SWM).

He added, “At present, 10% of solid waste is recycled in Bengaluru. The current waste generation rate is 0.4–0.6 kg/capita/day.”

It is tremendous increase in municipal solid waste from 1999 to 2013 in Bengaluru City. “With the increase in urbanization and change in food habits and lifestyle, the amount of MSW has been multiplying, and there is variation in waste composition,” Randeep D added.

There was a noticeable increase in the biodegradable percentage in Bengaluru city from 42% in 1999 to 61% in 2013 indicating increased organic waste generation in the city which may indicate growing population, improper solid waste management, or accumulation of green waste.

A considerable increase in plastic wastes were also observed in 2007, which might be due to urbanization and increased use of plastic carry bags. In 2013 the percentage of plastic waste decreased to 7% as an effective ban of plastic bags below 40microns within city limits in 2012.

The city’s garbage now fills the empty space east of Bengaluru in places like Mandur, Seegehalli, and Bellahali which all is near the forest area. Mandur which is 30 km from the city has about 25 lakh tonnes of waste which is in dire need of disposal.

M Goutham Reddy, managing director and chief executive of Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd of Hyderabad said,  “waste management in India is in its infancy stage and a lot needs to be done and the primary problem is that there is no commitment,” pointed out Reddy, whose company provides comprehensive waste management services.

“The commitment has to come from top-down — politicians, bureaucrats, local governments and the public, unless there is a commitment from people, the solution will not be achieved,” he added.

 “The total Municipal Solid Waste generated in Bangalore city has increased from 650 tons per day (1988) to 1450 tons per day (2000) and today it has become 4500 tons per day,” said Randeep D. “From 1988 to 2000 there is a reasonable change in waste a composition like fermentable, paper and plastic.”

Impact of Unorganised Waste Dumping

Environmental Impact:-

In Bengaluru, there are more than 60 illegal dumpsites identified. While BBMP and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) close these dumpsites, the new ones emerge elsewhere, posing health risks to residents in their vicinity.

The release of methane gas from the decomposition of biodegradable waste under anaerobic conditions causes fires and explosions. It is also a major contributor to global warming. The impact of irregular waste dumping is evident in Bengaluru. Around 305 lakes in and around the city had found in a survey that no single one is suitable for drinking or bathing. 

In a report published by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), “More than half of the country’s critically-polluted water bodies, in terms of chemical pollution, are found in Karnataka, with its capital itself accounting for 17 lakes and tanks with the highest chemical pollution.” The quality of the water is so bad that it can be used for wildlife propagation or industrial cooling purposes. A recent study found out that burning of MSW or garbage contributed to 16.1 % of PM 2.5 emissions in Bengaluru. Water experts Jitendra Singh wrote in an article in IISc, “It will take approximately 25,000 crores for rejuvenating the water bodies. Even for the infrastructure required to clean water, we depend on the developed countries’ contribution.”

Picture credit: KPN

Health Impact:-

At a time when the world at large and India, in particular, is reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic, we should not take waste management lightly as it possesses a great health risk. The group at risk from the unscientific disposal of solid waste include school children, waste workers, and people living nearby. Direct handling of solid waste can result in various types of infectious and chronic diseases with the waste workers and the rag pickers being the most vulnerable.

There is a specific danger of the concentration of heavy metals in the food chain. Rodents, insects, and other vermin attracted to open dumpsites may also pose health risks. Also, due to indiscriminate and large quantities of dumping, the soil at the open site is contaminated. This kind of dumping not only affects the environment but also uses up space that could have a more commercial and profitable purpose.


As non-biodegradable wastes like plastics, polythene, glass and in search of other valuable items, the pourakarmikas unload the waste on the dump sites and rag-pickers carry out sorting and that too without any safety measures.

Sanjay Singh, Resident doctor at SriKrishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzzaffarpur, said, “The life expectancy of manual scavenger is around 40 years and hence manual scavenging has been banned in India. But the safety of municipal workers carrying medical waste, industrial waste are not provided adequate safety.”

The budgetary allocation is always insufficient for solid waste management. The BBMP  is always struggling get infrastructure required to dispose solid waste scientifically.

The segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable is problematic at the disposal site. Once segeregation happens, biodegradable waste is taken to composting area and non-biodegradable left for the rag-picker as recyclable.

“If recycling is done at the home level, manpower and transportation costs for the municipality would cost less and ensure more productivity bring down cost of human resources required to manage waste, prevent the need for landfilling and protect public health and environment,” said T K Bandopadhyay, Expert in SWM.

He further mentioned, “Solid waste management practices never reach the desired level of efficiency until the public participates and discharges its obligation. In order to improve solid management practices in urban areas, it is necessary to incorporate suitable provisions in the state law to ensure public participation.”

Manoj Dutta, professor at IIT Delhi and consultant to more than 150 companies writes in journal, “Municipal solid waste generated depends on population climate, urbanization, socioeconomic criteria etc. Overall MSWM practices adapted in India at present are inadequate. It is also noted that efforts are made to improve MSWM in major cities but due attention is not paid for MSW of medium and small-scale towns.

Citizen’s Participation

The Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules of 2000 states, “It is the responsibility of the citizens to segregate their waste at home. In fact, to store segregated waste, places are selected in each ward and provision is made for collection of dry waste and removal of dry waste once in three days and transportation of the same. “

In many cities, nongovernmental and community-based organizations (NGOs and CBOs) have started developing neighborhood waste collection services as well as, initiating composting and recycling activities.

Bengaluru leads the way when it comes to civic initiatives towards solving problems. There is multi-level civic engagement for the betterment of the disposal of solid waste. The platforms like Daily Dump, Organic Terrace Gardening, Eartha Shastra, and Hasiru Dala are all working for more than a decade. As some are small in nature but some big like Hasiru Dala which generates a lot of employment. Hasiru Dala organization helps pourakarmikas maintain sanitation during waste separation and encourage people to separate organic and inorganic waste at home itself.

 “The city generates about 5000 tonnes of solid waste daily. Much of this waste is organic and should be composted. Mandating segregation of waste at source is clearly possible under the current legal regime. Many communities across the city are practicing this for years, demonstrating its feasibility,” said T K Bandopadhyay, expert in solid waste management.

He further said, “At the household level, segregation is vital. It does not take any time for an individual to put biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste in two separate bins. This exercise saves a lot of effort at the dump site. About 93.8% of the households are not recycling the waste and are directly disposing into the community bins without segregation.”

This requires collaboration between the authorities in charge and also the citizens of Bangalore. The right to clean environment comes under the Right to life that has been conferred to the citizens by the Constitution. But, it is also our duty to contribute to keep the environments of Bangalore clean.

Some of the proposed legal provisions are as follows:

i. Prohibition and punishment for littering, open defecation and waste disposal on streets etc.

ii. Duty of citizens not to mix recyclable/non-biodegradable/hazardous waste with organic waste.

iii. Duty of societies/associations/management of commercial complexes to clean their premises and to provide community bins that are covered and maintained in good condition.

iv. Duty of local body to provide and maintain ‘waste storage depots.

BBMP Roadmap

“BBMP is planning to establish a smart control room for solid waste management which will include administration module, transit module, door to door collection module, grievance redressal and monitoring cell,” said, Randeep D, Additional Commissioner Solid Waste Management (SWM). “It also includes a mobile app which will enable monitoring by not only BBMP officials but also citizens.”

BBMP will also follow the Central Pollution Control Board directive to eliminate landfills in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.

BBMP notification states, “The CPCB’s February order was followed by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) order to the BBMP to dispose of legacy waste (waste lying untouched for years) from existing landfills. The waste from the landfills in Bagalur, Mandur and Mavallipura have to be cleared on priority.”

After the directive T K Bandopadhyay, said, “The civic body develops a strategy every time a crisis occurs. They move from crisis to crisis with some technological intervention and technocratic administration, which will not help in the long run. We should take the impact of landfills very seriously as it is a disaster in the making.”

Experts Recommendation

The most effective way to reduce the impact of managing waste is to reduce the amount of waste that is generated, waste reduction aims to change the way products are made and used to minimize waste generation.

T K Bandopadhyay, said, “ Waste reduction has the two-fold benefit of reducing raw material inputs and all of the cost and energy savings encompassed by this reduction, and reducing the volume of waste that needs to be managed and disposed of properly. Waste reduction conserves resources; reduces SWD costs and pollution, including GHG emissions; and teaches conservation and prevention.”

Waste reduction, reuse and recycling all divert materials from the Solid Waste Disposal stream and from landfills in many countries. While this reduction has many positive environmental benefits, it decreases the amount of LFG produced and subsequent availability for recovery and beneficial use.19

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) is an effective means for converting waste to energy and significantly reduces the volume of waste and the proportion of organic matter that is placed in a landfill, which in turn reduces the production rates of landfill methane.

Planning, designing and operation of municipal solid waste management system can be done on the basis of composition and the quantity of MSW generated. In general Indian MSW contains more organic material and less hazardous material than western countries like USA, Canada etc.

Public- Private Partnership models for waste management should be encouraged.

Recent Actions

The State government on 7 December 2020 declared in the Legislative Assembly that Bengaluru’s garbage woes will be solved in the next two years as reported by The New Indian Express.  Of the total 5,000 tonnes of garbage that Bengaluru produces, approximately 4,000 tonnes will be used in the waste-to-energy plant that is expected to start in the next 24 months as a MoU will be signed between the government and four companies.

The proposed plants are 600 MT plant for KPCL near Bidadi, 1000 MT plant near Kannalli, and 500 MT plant to NEG at Mavallipura. The Palike is planning to upgrade collection centres for dry waste in almost every ward.

Waste-to-energy plants will contribute towards scientific disposal of solid waste.  BBMP has proposed to partner with Firmgreen Enterprises and NEG to establish two different plants at Mavallipura to process 1,500 tonnes of solid waste. 

South Korea is one of the few countries to separate and recycle food waste. The world’s first landfill-powered hydrogen plant was built in South Korea in 2011, and currently over 60% of new and renewable energy is produced from waste.

The BBMP, Government, NGOs, and Citizens participation needed to overcome the challenges of Bengaluru becoming inhabitable.

India’s Status

India generates over 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day. According to MoEF&CC, 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country by the 377 million people living in urban India, the world’s third-largest garbage generator at present, out of which 5.6 million tonnes are plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is biomedical waste, hazardous waste generation is 7.90 million tonnes per annum and 15 lakh tonnes is e-waste.

 According to the World Bank, India’s daily waste generation will reach 377,000 tonnes by 2025 and currently, only 83% of waste is collected and less than 30% is treated.

In India, less than 60% of waste is collected from households and only 15% of urban waste is processed. However, billions of tonnes of garbage never make it to landfills or incinerators and end up in the oceans. This garbage chokes marine life and disturbs zooplankton.

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