Most Indians are relieved that it has finally begun to rain this monsoon, but residents of Mandur village near Bangalore are not among them. This is where Bangalore's dumping ground is located. The village residents fear that rain will intensify the already unbearable stench and increase the volume of toxic sludge that the garbage is releasing into their groundwater.

After the villagers staged protests in early June, Bangalore's civic authorities finally promised at the end of the month that they would stop dumping the city's garbage there within five months and would clear the roughly 20 lakh tonnes of waste on the ground over the next three years. The municipality has failed to meet similar deadlines in the past.

"When the rains come, it stinks, and the liquid from the garbage floats on agricultural land," said Gopal Rao, a Mandur resident.

Bangalore's municipal commissioner, Lakshmi Narayana, said that the city would stop sending garbage to Mandur by December. “We will increase source segregation. We will increase dry waste in the ward. That will be enough to handle the situation," he said, but did not say how he planned to enforce this segregation.

In June, the villagers blocked garbage trucks to protest against the state of the dumping ground, which was attracting pests harmful to their farm produce and causing illnesses. They invited civic officials to see, and smell, for themselves these conditions.

But they were the ones who finally made a trip, to meet the Karnataka chief minister in the state legislature building, eventually eliciting the promises from the municipal corporation.

As it stands, hundreds of garbage trucks from all over Bangalore come to the Mandur's dumping yard every night, tip their contents into the site and leave. The garbage is not treated or processed.

The civic contractors who transport waste from Bangalore to Mandur are paid by volume, so they have no incentive to help decrease the amount of garbage generated in the city, said Ashwin Mahesh, an urban planner. “This system is contrary to every principle of conservation, which is that, above all, you try to reduce the amount of waste you generate," he said.

Bangalore’s garbage problem has reached crisis proportions before. In 2012, citizens similarly protested and shut garbage collection services down. In November that year, the Karnataka High Court ordered the municipal corporation to ensure that all households segregated garbage.

An expert committee also recommended that the civic body separate waste at dumping grounds, by converting organic matter into compost and recycling most of the rest, leaving a small fraction behind for landfilling.

But neither of these things is being done. Amiya Kumar Sahu, president of the National Solid Waste Association of India, does not understand why municipal authorities fail to use existing technology, such as flotation systems, to separate paper and plastic from other garbage and to convert liquid waste into methane gas to generate electricity.

“There is a gap in knowledge, in capacity-building and in the understanding between the municipality and the contractor,” he said. “Anybody who throws trash on the road should be fined. If the municipality cannot clear the trash, it should be fined. The government should be clear that this is a big crime."

When employees of Daily Dump, a small Bangalore business that sells compost pots and educates households on how to turn their wet waste into compost, advocate segregation, the most common question people ask them is why they should segregate when civic authorities mix everything in the end. Indeed, Bangalore residents who do segregate often see the contents of their carefully separated garbage bags being thrown by garbage collectors all together on to the back of their trucks.

“If you look at the Supreme Court ruling on solid waste in 2004, everything is there," said Poonam Bir Kasturi, who founded Daily Dump. "But there is no implementation. It is not about cosmetic changes. It is about political will, and about saying, we will not pick up unsegregated waste from people. Period. Cities cannot afford to [not segregate] any more."