Garbage gobbles city backyard

Stone's throw from Tatanagar, clueless about waste disposal

By Animesh Bisoee
  • Published 11.12.15
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It’s disgusting. If it’s breezy, plastic waste flies inside my house Khasmahal resident Somenath Mukherjee with wife Sova who live near the squalor (left) 
on the main road of the locality only 2km from Tatanagar station. Pictures by Bhola Prasad

Khasmahal, 2km away from Tatanagar and 5km from Jamshedpur city limits, technically falls under a panchayat that votes in rural polls this Saturday, but has been paying a heavy price for not being under a notified area committee or municipality.

With no effort taken by East Singhbhum district administration or East Kitadih panchayat bodies to dispose garbage in Khasmahal, 2,000 people living in some 80 houses in the middle-class area live in dread.

On windy days, filth-encrusted polythene packets come flying through open windows inside rooms. During monsoon, people have to walk or drive amid unmentionables. Round the year, they have to live amid putrefying stench, mosquitoes buzzing over piles of filth and stray dogs rummaging in the garbage.

Barely 100 metres from Jamshedpur block and circle offices, Sadar hospital, district-level agriculture and fisheries departments and Krishi Utpadan Bazar Samiti (KUBS), Khasmahal strangely was always bereft of official sanitation activities.

Khasmahal Main Road, which links Parsudih police station to KUBS, shows the way. The road is lined with heaps of garbage - from rotting food to plastic waste and other unmentionables - amid well-built houses and multi-storey apartments.

"When it gets unbearable, residents collect kerosene and burn the filth," Somenath Mukherjee (70), Khasmahal resident and retired TRF (Tata Steel subsidiary) official, said on Thursday.

"It is disgusting to live in such dirt and stench. Plastic waste fly inside my house when there's a breeze, washed clothes hanging out to dry have to be washed again. Mosquitoes and stray dogs surrounding the filth add to our dangers," said the angry resident.

"I suffered from malaria in November last week. There are too many mosquitoes here because of the filth," added Sova, his wife in her sixties.

The Mukherjees will vote at polling booth 246 in GEL Church School, Kitadih, on Saturday.

"Whenever candidates in the fray for zilla parishad posts visited us for votes, we said only one thing, assure us of regular garbage removal," Mukherjee said.

Fellow resident and retired Tata Main Hospital (TMH) physician Dr A.K. Guha (68), who has a clinic in Parsudih, 1km away, said the quantum of filth put lives at risk.

"Residents grapple with malaria, other vector-and water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera due to the garbage," said Dr Guha.

Contacted, Anita Devi, East Singhbhum zilla parishad vice-president, who is also the local area zilla parishad, admitted garbage was a huge problem in Khasmahal but expressed her helplessness in solving the problem.

"We get Rs 5 crore a year from panchayati raj department and use the money for solar lights, tube wells, roads and construction of community halls. But as far as clearing garbage is concerned, if there is no earmarked dumping ground or landfill, where do we take the mess?" she asked.

She added that they tried to dump the area's garbage in nearby villages but faced "strong opposition".

"There is no existing landfill to dispose solid waste outside Jamshedpur. I've raised this issue with the administration but no action has been taken so far," Anita Devi added.

East Singhbhum deputy development commissioner (DDC) Binod Kumar Singh, who assumed charge here some six months ago, said no zilla parishad functionary had raised the issue during his tenure so far.

"I don't know if they spoke to the earlier DDC," Singh said. "But, I can assure you that we have a solid waste management plan under JNNURM for panchayat areas. We are in the process of searching sites for solid waste disposal. Till that happens, we need some stop-gap solutions such as alternative sites for waste disposal."

Khasmahal votes on Saturday