Navigating the trash-route of Bangalore and some hints to how it all works

Posted on February 19, 2008

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Being a part of the generation which rarely votes, is more or less politically apathetic and is mobile to the point of being rootless, it was a refreshing experience today to meet some bureaucrats who are making it happen in Bangalore and with gusto.

At 8:15 a.m. we set out to meet Nandesh and Shivakumar, two engineers in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the municipal corporation of Bangalore. Shivakumar is in charge of Yelahanka and Nandesh of another area along the nation highway number seven. Zack, Dharmang and me were accompanying Poonam. She had given a presentation at the Residents Welfare Association (RWA) of Yelahanka New Town and the engineers had invited her over to the BBMP zonal office to talk further. Poonam Bir Kasturi is the founder of DailyDump is working at organizing the solid waste management of the city, so that the bio-degradable waste is identified, separated and composted. She offers numerous (and very sound) arguments about why this is a good idea. The discussion with the Nandesh and Shivakumar was about how BBMP actually works, what is the organizational model and how she could engage with it to make the practices outlined by DailyDump an integral part of the municipal plan and program.

Nandesh very patiently drew the organizational chart of BBMP and described the broad roles and responsibilities of each level of officer. All of us had lots of questions. Are there any rules against singing on the street? Who controls the use of public spaces? Who is responsible for the plants grown in the traffic islands, circles, between the roads etc.? There exists an Horticulture department, it is in charge of the tree felling, tree planting, nurturing parks etc. across the city. Later, back in the lab, I downloaded the organizational chart of the department, and phone numbers and email addresses of each officer from the website of BBMP.

After the discussion we left in the corporation jeep to look at the existing composting facilities setup by the municipality. Nandesh explained the way waste-collection and dumping works and what roles the contractors and self-help-groups play in the effort.

Then we had lunch at this highway restaurant. Post-lunch Poonam and Nandesh went on to look at the main land-fill site where all the waste (around 30 truck-loads per zone per day) lands up and we took a rickshaw back to CEMA. With the sense of humour (+sarcasm) of Poonam, the zest of Zack and the enthusiasm of the engineers, the trip was really enjoyable. I hope to hangout more with Poonam this semester.

The take away/to-do for CitySpinning from this trip:

  • ┬áMake a presentation/white-paper for PetPuja/Urban Farming Lab and meet people in the horticulture department
  • Figure out if as a pilot CitySpinning can grow vegetables, with the help of its volunteers and its the gardeners of BBMP, in the many public spaces in Yelahanka (the road-divider, circles, parks, road-side).

Watch out for updates.

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