We are not strangers to the problems created by the Metro lines being laid in the city of Bengaluru. It has been a source of disruption of homes and employment. Anderson, a DWCC (Dry Waste Collection Centre) operator at Frazer Town for Ward no. 61, became one of the victims of the attempts being made to make Bengaluru a socially and technologically advanced city. He received an evacuation notice from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for his centre. On requesting for a five-day period to complete the evacuation, the BBMP official gave him merely two, and he was asked to clear the location off of tonnes of collected waste. Anderson evacuated most of the place within two days and closed his centre. Although the Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) of the BBMP has promised to help him find another location for the centre at the earliest, Anderson and his 8 loyal employees can only stay hopeful.
For seven years, dry waste segregation and sale were the only sources of income for Anderson and his employees. They used to segregate 600 to 800 kg of dry waste out of over 1.5 tonnes of collected waste. These employees have been with Anderson for more than 15 years now and they look up to him. They have continued to work with him despite the difficulties and the losses over the years. These employees used to receive a wage of Rs. 450/- per day, but now with the centre gone, they have no choice but to work for other centres at a lower wage of Rs. 300/- per day. Unless the BBMP and other Government officials help them find a new centre, they will be forced to continue with the underpaying work.
It is also important that the next centre that is entrusted to Anderson and team not have the same problems that beset the previous centre. The centre they had worked at was too small to support proper segregation of waste. As a result, the segregation work actually happened outside of the centre while the valuables were stored inside. Rains would often ruin the segregated waste and cause huge losses. For instance, the centre had to face a loss worth Rs. 20,000/- in the month of January because of the rains.
When it is not raining, unknown people either set the stock on fire or break into the centre to steal valuable items. The centre has faced about Rs. 60,000/- worth of losses due to the waste being set on fire and the centre being robbed three times. The roof is damaged and the centre has no provision for electricity, water, or a toilet. Anderson, with the aid of a few others, managed to fix the roof at a cost of Rs. 10,000/-. The employees get water from the residents of the nearby locality.
Another inconvenience facing Anderson is the fact that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is on someone else’s name and not his own. In order to rectify the situation, he had contacted the relevant officials but discovered that they had misplaced all the necessary documents that he had submitted for the MoU.
Anderson claims that once he is assigned a centre with better conditions and an MoU with his name on it, he will not just segregate waste but also collect it and make sure that the centre functions smoothly with the same employees who have always been with him. In fact, Anderson wants to collect dry waste from the households in the vicinity. When the residents of Jayamahal had requested him to collect dry waste from their homes, he had collected it for two months, until the health inspector had intervened and told him that he cannot collect waste from wards that are not under his jurisdiction.
According to Anderson, a notice specifying all the necessary information and granting the person enough time, along with the necessary provisions as may be needed, could have made it easier for him, his family, his employees and their families to adapt to this sudden change in their source of income.
Anderson, just like many others caught in the crossfire of ‘development’, wonder whether it can be achieved only by destroying the homes and livelihoods of vulnerable communities. Or, can we strike a balance between both with efficient alternatives and measures?
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