I hope the garbage problem is solved before Bangalore Literature Fest 2013 The true spirit of Xmas in Bangalore Fighting noise in your neighbourhood It is our city too Let independent dogs be
Citizen Matters Local news like no one else does
From Mandur with a message
no more dumping bengaluru
opinion PROTESTING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
It is our city too While all eyes are on Delhi, we cannot possibly sit back and say this happens only in Delhi. As hard as it is to come to terms with what happened to the 23-year-old woman, it is time to look closer home and ensure this is not repeated anywhere.
o the protests have stopped and the political games have begun. The 23-year-old girl continues to battle for her life. What now? The immediate reaction from Delhi Police after the incident was to pull up all the drivers and see to it that they have valid public service permits. People started tweeting about buses with dark windows or curtained and saying, be wary of them. Yes it is a good thing to have these in place because it helps us catch the culprits when a crime occurs. But this is not a preventive measure is it? Closer home Home Minister R Ashoka, inspected various bus stands and promised better security for women. This is definitely appreciable. But why wait for a horrific incident to wake up? The Delhi incident has now ensured that every woman outside that city is now swearing to never to step in to the ‘rape capital.’ Then what about the women living there? If we listen to the police (and the sundry well-wishers) then we should all be very very scared of all the drivers, gym instructors, random neighbours - in essence all strangers and that we be cautious of even stepping outside our homes. But that would be disastrous isn’t it? To not step out, to not hang out at the parks, movies, beaches and pubs, to be careful about what we wear, to worry about who we hang out with – a boy, man of a different community or person of
different sexual orientation, ensure that we are inconspicuous, lest we attract some unwanted attention, not travel by public transport, to not try new things, to run home before dark, to not live the life we want. It would be mighty disastrous. Yes, it is mortifying to think that it could have been any one of us on that bus in Delhi. That it could happen in any city for that matter. It could have been any one of us grievously injured and fighting to for life. But get out we must. The city, be it Delhi, Bangalore or Madurai, belongs to all of us. We should learn to ask for things. The street lights not working in HSR Layout may not be your problem because, well you live in Indiranagar and you are only driving through. But better lit streets will only make it safer. Demand that the street lights be fixed. If the BMTC bus is full and you find a man sitting in the ‘ladies’ seat politely ask him to get up. And if you see a man bullying her for asking the same, don’t turn away saying it is not your problem, it could be you, next time. And for once as Delhi protests and the protests in Bangalore and elsewhere have shown, men are with us too. At the recent protest at Townhall, a father accompanied his two young daughters. He said ‘this is not just women’s problem anymore. It is all of ours. We want women to be safe.’ And he is right. Do not sit quiet if someone is
sexually harassing you or anyone else. Make noise, get help. It is not your fault, don’t let people tell you otherwise. While it is imperative that we demand that the administration - the politicians, the police do their jobs without bias, it is also important to introspect and see what we can do to make the cities safer. Blank Noise project, the community art project that seeks to confront street harassment is asking people to take a 'Safe City Pledge.' They are asking you what you will do to make your city safe. Their website says “Dont just be angry. make a pledge. a promise to how you can make change. you can.” You can tweet your pledges with #SafeCityPledge #DelhiGangRape or change the status to " I pledge to _ _ #SafeCityPledge The course of action is pretty simple. Do not ignore and deny. Speak up, demand for your place in the city. And now is the time to do this.
Padmalatha Ravi is Associate Editor at Citizen Matters.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST DUMPING GARBAGE IN MANDUR
From Mandur w
no more 4 CITIZEN MATTERS
with a message
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Report Trucks carrying garbage to Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad
Bangalore sends 500 trucks of garbage to Mandur a day. So fifty Bangaloreans walked from Mandur on Saturday to say, stop the dumping and manage waste scientifically.
early 500-600 trucks with trash, operating and those living near other landfill sites in the dark of the night, dump their protesting against dumping of waste in their contents in Mandur every day. “After 10 pm, the neighbourhood. Mandur is located in the northeastern rural trucks start pouring in and it goes on till early hours of the morning,” says Munianjaneyappa, fringe of Bengaluru, along the Sivas Road that 72, a resident of Mandur. Munianjaneyappa starts from Budhigere cross on NH4. “The actual garbage generated in Bangalore walked the entire 25 km of the padayatra from Mandur to Domlur, Bangalore, on Saturday, is (closer to) about 3000 tonnes but the tender that the BBMP calls is for December 22nd, as part 6000 tonnes. It’s a clear case of the Lok Satta-organised of long distance hauling, ‘Dumping SAAKU’ BBMP keeps the overbilling that BBMP and campaign. landfills open the truck contractors are Around 50 people, inspite of the High profiting from. The longer including residents of the distance the waste gets Mandur, Lok Satta party court directing the dumped at, the greater supporters - many of city to manage its the benefits,” says Ashwin them young professionals waste locally Mahesh of Loksatta party. - and political and social Ashwin Mahesh says activists took part in the BBMP keeps the landfills walk. Former Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai met the group to show his open inspite of the High court directing the city to manage its waste locally. Mahesh support. The number of trucks dumping at the charged the BBMP of not adhering to scientific Mandur landfill has increased in the last processes in landfill management. He three months with villagers from Mavallipura, explained the bill drafted by Lok Satta that can Gundlahalli (location of the Terra Firma- help empower local residents to have a say in managed landfill near Doddaballapur), such landfill contracts.
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Report Garbage at Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad
Garbage at Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad
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The participants walking from Mandur towards
In the case of Mandur’s 153 acres of land (larger than the Mavallipura landfill), the landfill contract was signed in 2006 between Sri Srinivasa Gayatri Resource Recovery (landfill contractors), the village panchayat and BBMP. However villagers allege that the Panchayat members are hand in glove with the contractors 8 CITIZEN MATTERS
to continue the dumping. Gopal Rao, a resident of Mandur village who has been actively protesting against the landfill there, lamented about the contaminated water and health problems of the villagers. The farmers from the village who participated in the walk, warned that the fruits
and vegetables in villages around Bangalore is contaminated by the waste leachate from the landfills. “Annadhathanige kasadhaana beda (Don’t feed garbage to the one who gives you rice),” said one of the placards. Gopal Rao says, “BBMP has been buying time from the villagers and
Report Garbage at Mandur landfill. Pic: Anand Yadwad
“The actual garbage generated in Bangalore is (closer to) about 3000 tonnes but the tender that the BBMP calls is for 6000 tonnes. It’s a clear case of long distance hauling, overbilling that BBMP and the truck contractors are profiting from. The longer the distance the waste gets dumped at, the greater the benefits,”
Budigere cross, around 10:30 am. Pic: Anand Yadwad.
making false promises of gradually reducing the quantity of waste and putting a complete stop to it by Feb 2013”. However he alleges the number of trucks coming in to dump are increasing. The group of walkers ensured that none of them littered the roadsides as they made their way to
the destination. The walk turned out to be a good awareness campaign and had messages from Mandur residents requesting Bangaloreans to segregate waste at source. Manohar Elavarthi, a social activist and member of Praja Rajakiya Vedike, feels villages are always shortchanged. “Bangalore gets 24 hours electricity supply while the nearby villages have to make do with 4-8 hours of interrupted power. Bangalore gets more Cauvery water while farmers nearby face severe shortages costing them their crops,” he says. The walk ended in Domlur waste recycling unit, to highlight the
Member Loksatta party
success story of waste being locally managed in Domlur ward. “We are guilty of dumping our waste in somebody else’s backyard. We need to show solidarity and reassure the villages around our city, by responsibly managing our waste,” said Shantala Damle, Lok Satta candidate for Basavangudi. She exhorted citizens to segregate waste and clean up the mess, saying “it is also the first valid step towards cleaning up our politics.”
Shamala Kittane is a tech professional turned writer.
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Feature BANGALORE LITERATURE FESTIVAL: MULTIPLE CITY
I hope the garbage problem is solved before Bangalore Literature Fest 2013 For us average Bangaloreans, the communal ire at the discussion on Bangalore, was quite a treat. For applause from an event’s audience means that a wideranging liberal platitude has just been delivered.
"Session 6 - Bangalore/Bengaluru -
t the Bangalore Literature Festival last week, I adopted a cautious, rodent-like approach to finding the best seat in the capacious front lawn. I took, at first, a modest seat by the aisle, encountered a wall of tall people obstructing my view of literary greats; shifted to another seat, this time on the other side, a little further up. I spent five minutes paying full attention to Ashish Sen speaking about Mahesh Dattani’s works as the playwright himself sat beside and sagaciously offered agreement until the aged gentleman in the row before mine began to rise every five minutes; perhaps to allow for a better view to resolve some internal conflict reflecting that of Dattani’s characters. I needed to restrategise. I moved as discreetly as possible to four rows ahead of mine, to settle for a seat with a view restricted by no nodding head and next only to the seats reserved for the press. Now, everything will make 10 CITIZEN MATTERS
better sense, I reasoned. I sat down with my notebook, set down the day’s shopping from the festival bookstore(where I had stood mulling buying something and unwittingly blocked Sunil Sethi’s way for a full minute) and sat back and watched session after session on the final day of the first BLF. The crowd at the discussions seemed to ebb and swell depending on the popularity of the speakers. And what a crowd it was. Judging purely from the visitors’ eagerness to take part in the discourse, the city was in dire need of a platform such as this. Amish Tripathi even got told off by an elderly lady who warmly admonished the chronology of his characters and demanded that she be given an answer “Now! I don’t want to wait for your third book” as if he was not a writer of popular fiction but an errant young driver who insisted on repeatedly parking in front of the gate of her
Sadashivnagar house. *** It was a question that perhaps every journo hoping to file a report the next day was trying to answer. How does an event like this - one that brings people with love for literature and books togetheraccommodate an identity it derives from the city? Sure, a literature festival in Bangalore was going to significantly showcase local writers and literature; the art and music of here, but there was more to local flavor? The panel discussion titled “Bangalore - Multiple City” on the city’s history and recent cultural shift was a sometimes entertaining, sometimes depressing, often hilarious exploration of a range of present opinions. The discussion on identity started off fittingly with litterateur Dr. UR Ananthamurthy revisiting the reasons for his campaign to rename Bangalore to its more native origin -Bengaluru.
- Multiple City?" Panel Members. Prakash Belawadi, Ramya, Shobhaa De, T. V. Mohandas Pai, U R Ananthamurthy and V Ravichandar. Pic courtesy: BLF
The change, according to URA, was not just for the sake of identity but because a city should be referred to by the name its common man uses: “It is about pride.” The scholar delivered (yet again) his famous explanation of how an English word instantly becomes a Kannada noun by attaching a “-u” at the end. Kannada, he said, is a very ‘receptive language’. In a conversation that was quickly sliding into the politics of language, URA said that Bangalore will always be about Kannada. While on one hand endorsing generosity and acceptance of other cultures, he said that language can be of prominence only in its home. He said that if he as a visitor ‘had learned to say New York or Paris in those cities’, it was only fair for others to learn to say “Bengaluru”. URA expressed displeasure at the distribution of the language amongst the city’s various classes. According to him, privileged classes
feel that they don’t need the local language. “Upper classes didn’t know there was another Bangalore until Dr. Raj died” he thundered. Journalist and theater person Prakash Belawadi rubbished fears about the decline of Kannada. “There is more Kannada in Bangalore now than when I was a child” he countered. Belawadi didn’t endorse the growing popular concern that the language was fading. He said “Kannada is the definitive medium of cultural and literary expression, make no mistake.” When the insider-outsider point was nervously raised, it was Shobhaa De’s turn to say that it was unfair to appropriate cities to any one section of its citizenry. Be it Bombay or Bangalore, “you’re there because the place provides a livelihood.” She said the one thing about Bangalore that hasn’t changed is its people. Another panelist, actress Ramya spoke fondly of the Bangalore of then and declared that the city was
ruined and conveniently leveled blame on the proliferation of IT companies and attendant influx of people. It was left to ex-Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai to patiently challenge this favorite charge of Bangalorean chai sessions. “The government will lose 40% of its taxes” he said politely, if IT companies were to bundle up and move to elsewhere, unfairly facing the resentment against crumbling infrastructure and related issues. “Democracy is a system of lobbies” he declared rather boldly and insisted that urban issues should be raised with governments by campaigns of interest. In the inevitable ceremony of horror at what things have come to, somebody made an unfortunate “Garden City to Garbage City” remark and hell broke loose and its contents ran amok. Nobody knew what happened as this panel began a well-practiced denigration of the BBMP and the
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Feature city’s garbage problem. After several minutes of rueful chatter, it took Ms De to wonder how Bangalore had become a “garbage obsessed city?” If Shobhaa De isn’t primarily credited with asking the sharpest questions in a burning discussion, this was her moment. “What about garbage of the mind?” she asked sensibly even as the rest of the panel continued to give civic authorities and the city’s indifference an impassioned, somewhat pointless dressing down in what had started as a meditation on the changing face of Bangalore. *** Pai spoke about his own early days in the city when there were privileged classes of administrators, academics and old money and then there was the ‘rest of us’ who, to policy-makers, didn’t exist. He said that most civic issues are the result of undemocratic planning and policy. “Stop planning for the ruler” he told the city’s civic bodies. Belawadi in turn objected to ‘conflating civic problems as collateral damage to development’ of the consequences of the growth of the software industry. The moderator, former BATF member V. Ravichandar duly quoted Nehru about the difference between other Indian cities, which spoke of the past and Bangalore which was a “picture of the future”. He paused before explaining that India’s first Prime Minister said so when inaugurating the then Bangalore Municipal Corporation to a collective fit of derisive laughter. For us average Bangaloreans, this communal ire was quite a treat. I read a tweet last year about another lit fest which noted how applause from an event’s audience means that a wide-ranging liberal platitude has just been delivered. Well in line with the laws of crowd behavior at literary events, this happened: Pai: You won’t get beaten up in Bangalore for decrying the CM. 12 CITIZEN MATTERS
Loud applause. De: But you will get beaten up if you are a woman. Even louder applause. Ananthamurthy: We needn’t fear the government here. We are lucky to not have chief ministers like that of Tamil Nadu. De: Or West Bengal. Delirium. *** A conversation about identity had turned into a ritual of wringing hands, just like in living rooms and on park benches elsewhere in Bangalore. The panel represented success, eminence, even privilege and yet, the woes they begrudged the most were the same issues that the general public bemoaned. Never mind the undiscriminating democracy of bad roads and piling garbage, does nothing else of note remain to the city? Is this the furthest this conversation can go, I wondered. It was satisfying however to see some sense come out of this wildly roving conversation: one had to agree with Belawadi when he said that Kannada culture was strong as ever and that fears to the contrary were out of a “notional minoritization of certain sections.” Even URA’s vision of the city as one in which “children and the elderly could safely cross the road” struck a chord. It was agreed that in the end Bangalore had considerably trumped bigotry of the scale in which it exists elsewhere. In spite of fears about ‘privileging the natives’, there was heartening talk of acceptance and generosity. *** Just outside the festival bookstore, one was welcomed by a winding art installation with bamboo poles on which cards with attendees’ favorite lines from works of literature were suspended by strings. They swayed this way and that in the cool December
breeze making the entire thing rather dreamlike. The Bangalore Literature Festival had me leaving, like many others, quite elated to have witnessed an impressively organized first edition. But I left also silently praying that Bangalore gets rid of its trash trouble by this time next year. For more reasons than one.
Siri Srinivas is a young working professional.
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Feature JOLLY HOLLY TRAILS CHRISTMAS TOUR
Experiencing A the true spirit of Xmas in Bangalore Take a peek into some unique traditions of Christmas in the city. From churches to bakeries to homes, the true spirit of Christmas can be seen everywhere.
oel and Lindsey are good hospitable souls. When a troupe of 10 of us landed up at their house this Sunday, December 22nd, they welcomed us warmly into their beautifully decorated Christmas home. We gorged on Marzipan, rose cookies and kul kuls, sipped mint flavoured lemonade and admired their Christmas tree decorations. A quiet house tucked into a corner of the heart of the city, it is graced by one of the tallest Christmas trees I had ever seen. We were a bunch of people part of a Christmas inspired tour called Jolly Holly Trails, organised by
writer Christina Daniels and her friend Jatin Prabhu. The idea of the tour was to introduce some unique traditions of Christmas in the city and imbibe the true spirit of Christmas. No, I don’t mean just the wine! Bangalore’s christians may constitute just 6% of the city’s population, but as Christina says, traditions of church service, cribs, cake and wine, carol singing, variety shows, decorative homes, and visits to shelters for the unfortunate, are strong and thriving. There was of course always grand bashes at the clubs and hotels at the end of the day. H o m e s are beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, stockings, trinkets, stars and bells. We visited Juliet Sait who makes
ornate Xmas decorations with ribbons, pine cones and beads, in her Richards Town house. She also takes special Christmas orders. Her marshmallows and plum cake were really yummy! The city has so many churches, especially in the central part of town, catering to multiple denominations. Many of them were built by Europeans, and have British or French influences. Each one of them have their own unique traditions for Christmas. We had started the tour at St Patrick’s Church on Brigade Road in
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Feature St Patrick's Church, Brigade Road. Pic: Rajeev R
the afternoon. Father Adrian showed us around the church, the sculptures of the saints and the crib of baby Jesus in the Boys home. This gothic style Catholic church was built in 1841 and has twin bell towers. Inside, light streamed through stained glass windows, with a domed altar, flanked on one side by the statue of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In the olden days, the front seats were reserved for the British soldiers of Irish and the elite. We also dropped in on the choir practising Christmas carols. The harmony and exuberance of the singers was pleasure 14 CITIZEN MATTERS
to listen to. Catholic churches are noted for their grand decorations, especially the crib of baby Jesus and the thematic displays. The All Saints Church on Hosur, barely a furlong away was built for Anglicans. Tucked away from the main road behind huge trees, the church looked like a quaint old stone cottage, with a pretty little garden on the sides. The insides were beautiful but simply decorated, with a tiny little crib and the five candles on an evergreen wreath, that signified the Sundays leading to
Little Sisters of the Poor, Hosur Road. Pic: Rajeev R
The All Saints Church, Hosur Road. Pic: Rajeev R 29-Dec-2012
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Feature Christmas. Father Karunakaran talked about the history of the church. It was founded in 1870, by Rev. S T Pettigrew, who was also the founder of Bishop Cotton Boys’ School. He wanted to establish a church especially for British pensioners as the older St Marks church was crowded with British soldiers. We stopped at Koshy’s for their plum cake, smileys and ginger tea. Koshy’s is always festive with Christmas decorations this time of the year. Its wildly popular plum cake is supposed to be based on a secret recipe and was marvelous! Christina and Jatin Prabhu shared how Bangalore Blue, the eponymous grapes variety was grown in orchards just east of cantonment (current day Kammanahalli, Da Costa Layout and nearby areas). Wine was made locally and used for the plum cakes! Thomsons Bakery, which coincidentally was celebrating its 50th birthday on Sunday is an old timer’s favourite, for its cakes and bread. George Thomas, the second generation of the family talked about the shop and their traditions. We ended the day at Urban Solace cafe at Ulsoor Road. Christina and Jatin Prabhu had planned some entertainment for us - snippets from Hollywood movies on the Christmas
Pic: Deepthi M S
theme, and some limericks and light verses from Jatin Prabhu. Stroganoff, home-made wine, and some home made turkey, courtesy Christina! The most touching part of the day was visiting the elderly residents at the Home for the Aged managed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, Hosur Road. The sisters take care of elderly men and women, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, who are really in need of home, care and concern. Jatin Prabhu shared home-made cakes
Deepdive into India Economy, Human rights, Society, Environment,Women issues, Agriculture, Children, Education, Laws, Media and many more... at www.indiatogether.org 16 CITIZEN MATTERS
with the sisters and residents. Violet, one of the residents regaled us with carols, some her own composition. As she sang, “We may run out of sugar, but we will never run out of love. We may run out of money, but we will never run out of love!”. Wish you all a lovely Christmas and Happy New Year!
Meera K is a co-founder at Citizen Matters.
THE NEWS IN PROPORTION
HE L ND T
g n i ght
e s i no
r u o in y
d o ho
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r u bo
Sound should not be audible beyond 200 feet, says the law. Pic: Shamala Kittane.
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t was 10am in the morning. A torrent of unbearably loud music got me up on my feet out on the road. I saw many loudspeakers that had been installed overnight, from Nagasandra circle to Thyagarajanagar, all along the main road. Evidently, a nearby temple had decided to celebrate ‘Annamma Devi Festival’ - a borrowed tradition from a village but now out of context and place. A local JD (S) politician, Adisheshaiah, however decided to keep the tradition going. The festive season in Bangalore begins in August and goes on for next two months, with Dasara, Diwali etc. Various gods are appeased with appropriate pujas alongside noisy celebrations. It’s Annamma Devi festival in this case that drove me to the nearest police station. Clearly the noise was beyond tolerable limits and in complete violation of noise pollution norms. According to Karnataka State of Environment Report and Action Plan-2003. The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, have set the standards for noise levels in various areas in our country.
Category of Area/Zone
Limits in dB (A) Day Time
T he day time refers to the time period between 6 am and 10 pm. The period in between has been referred to as night. A silence zone is defined as an area comprising not less than 100 mts around hospitals, educational institutions and courts.
It was like any other public function, noisy and inconvenient for neighbours. A local temple festival noise quotient pushed the author to check out what the law says and how noise limits can be enforced. 18 CITIZEN MATTERS
Clearly the Annamma Devi function was in violation of all the norms and I had a strong case on my side. When I reached the police station, it was afternoon and the policemen were busy distributing packets of lunch. I tried to explain the problem to them. They were willing to take the complaint but they wanted my name and address. I was aware that complaints can also be taken anonymously told them that it was their duty to enforce law when it is being violated, irrespective of who is complaining. One of the policemen tried justifying the organisers, asking me, would I not be using loudspeakers when I have a function at my home. I demanded to know whether the organisers of Annamma Devi had obtained permission, the policemen told me to go to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police to get an answer. So I went to the DCP’s office at Sound End circle, Jayanagar. I was shown the board showing visiting hours by a constable, indicating that I can meet the DCP, H S Revanna only between 4 pm and 6 pm. I told him I was not a visitor, and I was there to complain regarding the loudspeaker problem. He said the DCP was busy in a meeting and directed me to ACP of Bangalore South, Prasad. To my relief, the ACP heard me out patiently and ordered a few of his colleagues to look into the issue.
According to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, Licensing use of loudspeakers, etc.(1) Subject to the provisions of section 36 and of any orders made under section 31, no person shall use or operate,1. In or upon any premises any loudspeaker or other apparatus for amplifying any musical or other sound, at such pitch or volume as to be audible beyond fifty feet from such premises; 2. In any open space any loudspeaker or other apparatus for amplifying any musical or other sound, at such pitch or volume as to be audible beyond two hundred feet from the
place at which the musical or other sound is produced or reproduced, except under and in accordance with the conditions of a licence granted by the Superintendent or in such local area by such other officer as the State Government, may, by notification in the official Gazette specify in this behalf. The ACP promised to have the speakers confiscated and issued orders to have them removed. When I returned home, the noise had subsided, but the speakers stayed. The event continued for the next two days. However the noise level remained under check, within tolerable limits. However, on the third day, the
noise was at its peak marking the end of the festival. It was an orchestra. I put up with the unbearable noise levels till 10pm, before calling 100. A Hoysala team arrived and put a stop to it after another agonising half an hour, while I was tensed and was praying to goddess Annamma Devi, that I wouldn’t have to call the police again. Noise pollution cannot be ignored. According to World Health Organisation, noise pollution has the following effects on human beings: • interferences with social behavior (aggressiveness, protest and helplessness) • interference with speech communication • affects performance at work/ school
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Guide • pain and hearing fatigue • hearing impairment including tinnitus • annoyance • sleep disturbance and other consequences on a long and short term basis • cardiovascular effects • hormonal responses (stress hormones) and their possible consequences on human metabolism (nutrition) and immune system. Based on the duration of exposure, noise can have multiple effects on human beings. Some of which are listed below: • Eardrum is damaged when exposed to very loud and sudden noises. The hair cells in the inner ear are chronically damaged. Prolonged exposure to noise of certain frequency pattern leads to hearing loss. • According to Kryter in 1970, noise causes heart beat to decrease with fluctuations in arterial blood pressure and vasoconstriction (decrease in the diameter) of peripheral blood vessels. • Studies indicate that blood is thickened by excessive noise. Eosinophilia(a symptom of allergy), hyperglycaemia (Abnormally high blood sugar), hypokalaemia (Abnormally low level of potassium in the circulating blood leading to weakness and heart abnormalities) and hypoglycaemia (Abnormally low blood sugar) are caused by alteration in the blood due to noise. • Noise affects professional performance including the ability to concentrate especially of those who require precision and attention in their work. • Exposure to high noise levels for short period of time can result in temporary loss of hearing. 20 CITIZEN MATTERS
Exposure for long periods of time can result in permanent loss of hearing. High noise levels are dangerous for foetus and can cause behavioral changes in pets. Public speaker systems that do not follow the norms of noise pollution are the main contributors to this hazard. Many of us just put up with it, as we think that in most cases it is temporary. However, short periods of inconvenience are becoming a regular feature in the city. It’s time we become aware of the consequences of noise pollution. The picture below will give you an idea of measuring the sound you are surrounded by.
You can approach Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for complaints against sources of noise that are permanent. KSPCB will issue a notice to the offending party and order a permanent solution. According to Vijaya Karthikeyan, Environmental Officer at KSPCB, noise pollution by loudspeakers does not come under the jurisdiction of KSPCB. The Superintendent of Police is the ultimate authority in this regard, and has been empowered to enforce law and take action in cases of noise from loud speakers, crackers, processions etc. that require immediate action. Similarly, complaints against noise from motor vehicles go to the traffic police. Complaints on hotels and other private organisations go to BBMP.
permissions that can be granted by the police in an area, the criteria for granting a permission etc. This took me again to the ACP. Bangalore South ACP Prasad took time to clear my doubts. “There is no limit on the number of permissions we are authorised to give, we mostly give the permissions. In some cases like in cases where hospitals are nearby, we (do) reject,” he clarified. “We only give permission for mike sets, not for public address systems. If rules are violated, we file a case against them and confiscate the loudspeakers,” the ACP added. When Thyagarajanagar is a thickly populated area with many schools nearby, isn’t permitting such functions in contempt of the law? The ACP responded, “The organisers seek permission from the corporation (BBMP) to erect structures on the road and from traffic police to block roads. In cases where they have been granted permission from these authorities, it becomes difficult for us to deny them permission. We have to cooperate.” With some of my doubts cleared, I thanked the ACP and stepped out of his office. It was then that I remembered the long-forgotten proverb - Quitters never win; Winners never quit. Yes, if one has to win the fight against noise pollution, or fight for any other cause, he/she should have the mindset and will power strong enough not to quit midway. This, equipped with the relevant knowledge, will make you stand up for the right thing and win your fight.
Adamant organisers, helpless cops?
Shamala Kittane is a former tech professional.
Different agencies for different types of noise
After a few days, when everything got back to normal, I was left with the nagging urge to seek answers to the many unanswered questions, such as the number of
THE ISSUE OF STRAY DOGS
Let independent dogs be Why has the Karnataka state authorities set their sights on deliberately banishing independent canines, usually referred to as stray dogs? Pic: Wikimedia Commons
arlier in December, the Karnataka High Court issued a judgment saying dogs deemed a menace or seen to cause nuisance can be exterminated by Bangalore authorities whether or not there is evidence of their having mauled or bitten children or adults. Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna failed to define the terms “menace” and “nuisance”. Bangalore-based voluntary organisation, Voice of Stray Dogs, has made a detailed assessment of the judgment. The lives of the independent dogs in Karnataka’s capital would thus depend on arbitrary definitions that may be arrived at by the notoriously inefficient city authorities, who are indifferent to the real woes of Bangaloreans. They ignore hundreds of thousands of pot-holes and dug-up footpaths but want to go after defenceless dogs? Disturbingly, the judgment precludes any role for Animal
Welfare Officers in the matter of “culling”. Moreover, it is stupefying that the judgment covers sterilized and vaccinated dogs too. In other words, even safe independent dogs may be killed off if some municipal factotum deems them a “menace” and a “nuisance”. This has implications far beyond Karnataka. In many parts of India, there are periodic calls from some sections of the public to “get rid of stray dogs”. But our space also belongs to other non-human species of fauna, not to mention flora. Birds of various kinds, bees, geckoes, lizards, cats and, of course, dogs have been around since millennia and have coexisted peaceably, making no demands on human beings. In the name of development, cities such as Bangalore have gone about shedding trees and filling up lakes (never mind the lives of species of fauna dependent on these gifts of nature).
Species such as cows, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks and others have been enslaved, tortured and exploited by humans for millennia. Others such as dogs and cats have given great joy to hundreds of generations of humans. The affection shown to dogs is returned manifold. The gratitude and loyalty shown by dogs towards humans is unparalleled. But in a country where casteism, sectarianism (communalism is the word used in India) and racism (as exhibited towards Northeast Indians and African students, for instance) and sexism (witness the female-tomale ratio which has fallen to just above 700-to-1,000 in some districts of India) are rife, could speciesism be far behind? In India, speciesism - the assignment of different values, rights and consideration on the basis of membership of different species - takes the form of privileging the human vis-à-vis non-human and
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favouring cows over every other non-human species. Indigent and homeless people, who are members of the lowest class and mostly of the lowest castes, tend to display a more humane attitude towards dogs. Many of them feed independent dogs, sharing what little they have with their canine companions. The rich, who favour pedigrees - high caste dogs and equivalents of Aryaputras, so to speak - are unable to see the intelligence of 22 CITIZEN MATTERS
indigenous independent dogs who also, incidentally, have greater immunity compared to “pure” breeds. People who express hatred for other humans in their support for a ban on the slaughter of cows are far less concerned about the demand for “culling” dogs.
Side effect of the garbage crisis There is now more waste available for independent dogs, and the Bangalore authorities have so far failed miserably to address the
garbage crisis. All this is not to deny that there has been a problem with dog bites in Bangalore. But the number of “wards” under the Bangalore metropolitan authorities has expanded greatly and many of them are not covered by the Animal Birth Control programme. Moreover, people seem not to ask whether there may also be an immediate provocation for the dogs to attack: were stones hurled at them or were they taunted?
Opinion path of ethics and legality. Humans kill each other mindlessly and have periodically carried out genocides and pogroms merely because of slight differences in beliefs or skin colour, tribal lineage, language or regional origin. If dogs sometimes attack humans or other dogs, they do so in line with what is dictated through their DNA - either in self-defence fearing an attack, to defend their “territory” or establish a place in a pecking order. There is one curious practice among Indian dogs that might raise questions as to whether they discriminate against collectors of recyclable materials, often referred to as “ragpickers”. These men and women tend to look unkempt. Have independent dogs imbibed human attitudes towards recyclers? Or could it be that the recyclers’ sacks are a smorgasbord of scents and smells and the dogs - endowed with the keenest of noses - are displaying not hostility but excitement at the approach of this medly of aromas?
Approval for Pogrom?
An independent dog with collar companion to indigent humans. Pic courtesy: Author
Getting rid of independent community dogs might actually hurt the people of certain areas who depend on them to warn of the entry of strangers at night. At a time when attacks on the elderly and single women are increasing, should the city authorities be going after independent dogs? In the above paragraphs the term independent canines or dogs has been used in preference to “stray dogs”. Dogs do not stray. Humans do: so many stray from the
That the Chief Justice of a High Court has gone so far as to approve of pogroms against this marvellous fellow species is deeply saddening and disturbing. Has the judge taken a walk along Bangalore’s roads and made eye contact with independent dogs that loll about peacefully, minding their own business? If he does so, he might see the spark in their eyes, a questioning look with occasionally an endearing tilt of the head, pricking-up of the ears, wagging of the tail and a body language conveying curiosity and an eagerness to communicate, to receive and return affection. But instead, he has chosen to align with those destroying the soul of the city, those who have already removed a lot of its trees and lakes, added millions of cars
and thousands of tonnes of rubbish and dust, choking humans and nonhumans alike. As the judgment goes against Article 51 A, clause (g), of the Indian constitution, which enjoins citizens “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures”, the Supreme Court is most likely to set it aside as it has done previous misguided moves by authorities in other cities. (Animal rights activists ought to rope in the support of biscuit manufacturers - makers of Parle-G, Sunfeast and others - whose products are offered by millions of people on the streets of Bangalore and other cities to independent dogs. Should a “culling” take place, biscuit-makers will suffer a dent in revenues!) Changing the pernicious mindset behind the BBMP’s move as endorsed by the Karnataka High Court will need much greater effort and longer campaigning.
N Jayaram is a senior journalist. A version of this article was originally published in his blog. This commentary benefited from a brief conversation with Santosh Rajashekar of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), Bangalore, but neither he nor CUPA are responsible nor answerable for any of the above, which are solely the opinions of the author.
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citizen matters emagazine _29-12-2012