Bangalore is global ‘garbage’ city, says Times of India

The chief minister of Karnataka, Jagadish Shettar, is quite happy that Bangalore is a “global city”. So global and newsworthy that even its trash is big news for the international media. The irony that Bangalore is catching global attention for the wrong reasons seems to be lost on the chief minister. ASHA RAI reports.

For the global media, Bangalore is a metaphor for the new India: the good and the bad. A decade ago it was symbolic of India’s giant strides in the Information Technology space. The city became a verb with ‘Bangalored’ standing for job losses in the US. Today, Bangalore, again, stands as a symbol for the underbelly of India’s rapid economic growth. For mountains of waste generated by the new, consuming middle-class, for the inability of the weak civic agencies to get it off the roads and dispose them off scientifically, for the collapse of the local administration.

It is also ironic that Bangalore’s garbage problem gained national eyeballs only when the international media saw if fit to run large reports on it. Though the problem – festering for a couple of months now – has received saturation coverage locally and is the topic of conversation on pavements and Page 3 parties,  rising mounds of urban waste is such a common phenomenon in India that it excited nobody beyond the city limits other than the villages where it was being dumped hitherto.

Unfortunately, for the last few months, Bangalore’s making national and international headlines for the wrong reasons. The sight of thousands of north eastern people fleeing the city in fear of their lives had barely receded from people’s minds when the agitation over sharing of Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu – with its endless bundhs and disruption to daily lives – broke out.

The crisis was barely contained when the garbage problem cropped up when people living in villages where the two main landfills are located decided they have had enough and refused to accept garbage in their backyards.

In a way, the current, un-resolved stink over the garbage is reminiscent of the city’s infamous traffic problems that surfaced a decade ago. Both are caused by  city planners and administrators being caught off-guard by the dramatic growth of the city.

Commute problems stay though efforts are underway to ease the problem. The bus service has dramatically improved while the Metro has started limited operations. If the same pace to problem solving is transferred to garbage, it might well take half a decade for the city to have scientific solutions to its waste at the very least. How global does that make Bangalore then, Mr Shettar?