It's something we've all become quite immune to: little mounts of garbage lining pavements, larger hillocks of trash gracing street corner, roads littered with debris and filth of unknown provenance. One thing is clear: waste is seriously mismanaged in India and an indication of a failure of civic sense as well as governance. Mysore is one city where this failure is clearly evident, especially in the empty lands outside the city that have over the years been colonised by ton upon ton of solid waste.
These wastelands - literally - on the outskirts of the city are evidence that the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) are taking what looks like an easy way out instead of looking for effective alternatives to tackle solid wastes.
One such "landfill" is near Columbia Asia Hospital on Bengaluru-Mysore Road. The foul smell and festering garbage is the first thing visitors see as they enter Heritage City, but the authorities are turning a blind eye (and a plugged nose). Ravi, a resident of the Gandhi Nagar locality and an agriculturist claims to have seen trucks dumping garbage on the side of the road. "The people who come with huge tippers to dump the wastes here say that the land belongs to them and they are dumping the waste onto their own land," says Ravi, adding that these individuals say that nearly 20ft of land from the edge of the road and into his farm belongs to them. "I cannot read and write, but I hope there are educated citizens who will look into the matter and save the city."
He also notes that the sight of the dump trucks seems to embolden some locals into following suit. "Such dumping of wastes on this road has to be stopped as they are posing a threat to the neighbourhood with schools, colleges and hospitals around," Ravi rues.
Yet another makeshift landfill has mushroomed in the outskirts of the city on T. Narsipur Road. The site was once a lake, but it has completely dried up and serves as a repository for construction waste. A security guard (name withheld upon request) of a computer centre located near the dried up lake says huge trucks arrive to dump the waste here on a regular basis. "We have lodged complaints many times but no one in the corporation office seems to be interested," he says.
Meanwhile, the helipad near Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is also slowly being taken over by rubbish. The area was known for its calm and peaceful environs and is still popular with morning walkers. A resident of the locality says, "It is sad to know that the corporation is not taking any steps to protect or develop this helipad... the trucks keep unloading their debris here unchecked."
Mysore's makeshift garbage dumps do not end with three areas - they are cropping up everywhere. The government and municipal bodies may be partly responsible but we as citizens also bear a good share of the responsibility. It is up to us not to start throwing our own household wastes in these dump yards and it is we who need to speak up loudly and persistently enough on the issue for the authorities to finally take notice.