Encroachment and Inequality in the shadow of India’s Silicon Valley: The story of Bangalore Rural
– Dr Yellappa Reddy
Bangalore urban and rural Panchayat population exceeds 2.5 million compared to Bangalore‘s 1.5 million. Bangalore rural is losing its greenery and water bodies rapidly and the land is becoming dump yards of garbage, sewage and red category industrial and biomedical waste.
The quality of breathable air and drinkable water is degrading and therefore people are seriously suffering from health impairment. The administration and politicians are yet to understand the extent of damage caused to the eco-vitals due to mindless growth in the Panchayat jurisdiction. The 73rd amendment and 243G of the constitution empower and define authority and responsibility of Panchayats. It enables them to function as institutions of self-government having provisions for the devolution of power and responsibility. They have full authority and responsibility to prepare plan for economic development and social justice.
The Panchayats are fully empowered to implement the schemes of economic development and social justice like, agriculture , land improvement, minor irrigation , water management and watershed development, animal husbandry , dairy and poultry fisheries, social forestry and farm forestry , rural housing , drinking water , roads , bridges, poverty alleviation, education , health and sanitation , family welfare , women and children development and maintenance of community asset.
Child health: Ministry of Panchayat Raj and Government of India child development need to address the role of Gram Panchayat in identifying the issues children are facing. A child’s future majorly depends on the nutrition intake in the first thousand days of birth. A good nutrition, quality breathable air , drinking water are the basic necessities in the period between the start of mother’s pregnancy and till the child completes 2 nd year of birth for the health and well-being and success of the child, if not, there will be serious damages such as physical and mental impairment .
The Bangalore north Talluk and Yelahanka Talluk Chief executive officers with the assistance of Bangalore Environment Trust (BET) had organized Prakruti Karyashala on 21 Oct 2022. As per the records of findings of Prakruti Karya Shala the number of deaths of children in the age group 0 to 5 is much higher in the rural Panchayat of Bangalore district.
The CEO of Bangalore urban District and deputy secretary welcomed the chairperson of the Panchayat c and highlighted the purpose of the prakriti karyashala workshop and requested them to focus on the three critical issues faced by the Panchayat. Surprising fact was that the Chairperson had listed out the issues inflicting the health caused by urban administration- discharging treated sewage to the lakes and dumping garbage and permitting all kinds of industry waste unauthorized without taking the consent. They are not bothered to listen to the Panchayat, not even paying taxes. The main culprits are BWSSB. BBMP contractors and Karnataka State Police control in these issues.
The major infrastructure developing authority such as Kempegowda International Airport, national highway and pollution control board giving NOC without consulting and conducting public hearing is virtually diminishing the quality of life of three crore population of urban and rural Panchayats. The authorities need advice the basic needs to advise grass root level workers, guide and monitor various government schemes and budget allocation. On the 3rd November, BET Chairman participated in the Gram Sabha held at Dasanapura Panchayat situated right on the national highway-4 and discussed various issues faced by the people.
The dasanapura Panchayat boundary from 2 to 3 km touching the land has been acquired by highway authorities. There are two schools right on the highway and private people have built compounds to the schools to avoid the scene of dumping garbage and nuisance caused by drunkards with numerous liquor shops or functioning in the area. The school children are suffering from garbage dumping every day right in front of the school. The village Panchayat authorities have given complaint several times to highway engineers stationed closed by but action is not being taken against garbage dumping and the liquor shops.
The Panchayat citizens, BDO and all other grass root level workers should meet and discuss about the budget allocation and other plans but this never takes place and work in an unplanned way ultimately the schemes will not serve the purpose. Realizing the crisis in Bangalore the National Green Tribunal has passed the order to year mark adequate funds to set right the chaos created in the electronic city Anekal Panchayat and directed to file an affidavit to the NGT by the Chief secretary of Karnataka state to prevent mindless discharge of industrial debris to Chandapur water body and contaminate underground water. The Chief secretory filed a written affidavit to set right the illegal dumping of hazardous industrial waste.
The NGT registered SUMOTO Case after noticing the sufferings people of Chandapur village and within a week NGT passed the order to dedicate Rs. 2900 cr to set right the chaos and crisis created by mindless growth of Bangalore within a stipulated time. The chief secretary of Karnataka state has filed a written affidavit to set right and implement the provisions of the law- air act, water act and industrial waste dumping but so far there seem to be no consultation with the village community and the Panchayat to list out to draw short-term and long-term plans. The major polluters are the BBMP and the BWSSB, who dump garbage and discharge untreated sewage to the water bodies respectively. The pollution control board is unable to take stringent action against the major polluters because the pollution control board members are BBMP commissioners and BWSSB Chairpersons appointed by political nontechnical person and sometimes the consultant of the industry will be appointed as chairperson and this is the biggest handicap to take appropriate actions against the polluters who are the board members. The administration should ponder over these handicaps and take legal action against the polluters. The Bangalore airport is very close to Yelahanka-Devanahalli village Panchayat and suffers from air pollution, aerosol pollution and noise pollution and the Karnataka Lok Adalat has issued directions to create green belt to mitigate noise and air pollution but nothing is being thought of so far. Similarly Highway authorities who have acquired the Panchayat land have failed to maintain the hygiene and sanitation on the land which is under their control need to be addressed to set right within a stipulated time by administration. The disease burden is galloping in the village Panchayat especially in the electronic city and in other surrounding areas. All kinds of chronic diseases, cancer and air and water borne diseases, contagious and non-contagious diseases are increasing due to dumping of untreated water and e-waste.
Recently it has been found that, many children have been admitted for bone marrow transplantation which costs lakhs of rupees. In the 2022 year global pollution index, India’s position is 180th out of 180 countries speaks volumes about the diseases. Fortunately, Karnataka and Bangaloreans are lucky enough to get the attention of the NGT which has directed state government to set aside the funds to implement the plans in the coordinated manner- short, medium and long-term timeframe on priority as directed by Ministry of Panchayat Raj Child development and Gram Panchayat because today’s children are the future citizens and if they suffer from chronic diseases it will be a great burden to the families and to the state. The amount spent on establishing hospitals and health insurance schemes will only play limited role but prevention is much cheaper. Our prime minister in COP-26 has pledged before global leaders that there will be zero carbon emissions by 2070 and that we will have to pay attention to health, hygiene and sanitation. On November 7, 2022 the COP-27 program, UN Secretary General told the delegates gathered, to avert climate change impact and leading to climate chaos.
Karnataka government is endlessly suffering from flood since a decade and Bangalore is one of the victim facing various problems due to lack of land use policy, water use policy etc. On the 11th November 2022, ‘The Hindu’ daily newspaper mentioned boldly about the garbage dumping by the BBMP causing contamination in the underground water and creating health hazards to the community.
Dr. Yellappa Reddy
Former Secretary, Dept. Of Ecology and Environment
Govt. Of Karnataka