Oct 1, 2012

Cut the crap [275/365]

Today is the 1st of October.
About two months since Bangalore became the Stink City, its rulers decreed that we would start segregating our trash from today.
The intentions are certainly good, but there is just a few untied ends.

Our rulers forgot to educate their underlings.
I live in an apartment block of 20 families. Our street has about half a dozen apartment blocks and about 300 families. That's about 500 people on one street. Everyone's heard the noise, but no one knows what to do or how to go about it. We have not seen any awareness campaigns on our street or even in our block.

The pournakarmikas (trash collector) are unaware of what to do either. Our trash-collector has not picked up trash for the past 3 days. One of the families had a birthday party yesterday and dumped a ton of plastic cups and plates in and around the blue garbage bin. It was quite a party because I saw a lot of pastry boxes strewn all around.
Our civic sense is appalling. I have very dear relatives abroad and they tell us envious accounts of how streamlined the trash segregation and collection system is in New York and other parts of the civilized world. It is a surprise that we as a country haven't started segregating our trash yet. C'mon folks! 



Bangalore Circa 2012: This could be our past
Couple of years ago, when I was in Cochin, they had a similar dilemma. The government took a stand that they would not sanction apartment blocks without recycling units within their premises. Existing ones had to build one. Ofcourse, you know how that goes- People immediately retaliate when they are told to do something. The trash collectors there were instructed to accept only trash which has already been segregated.
Gradually the voices of dissent faded and the city is a lot cleaner, and the trash is being processed in a more scientific way than just dumping them in a landfill. Today, the city is a wonderful example of what happens when the government educates its people.

Back in Bangalore, we treat our garbage the same way we treat our exes. Out of sight is out of mind. We have been dumping all our shit into some village for decades without bothering to understand the way we have been stinking up their lives. And when they revolted, I was secretly happy. What took them so long?

And today, as I woke up, I spoke to my pournakarmika and though she's heard about the segregation, she has no clue what she or we are supposed to do. The situation isn't any better with the 500 of us on our street. I hear voices of dissent and complaints of how this is going to add to their daily chore of things to remember and do. I hear animated conversations of how the government is so inefficient and corrupt. I wont write how this conversation digresses into a list of all the things that is wrong with India.

I wait to see how many Bangaloreans will spare the time to segregate their trash.
Fines are the way to go, make them higher. Use the money that is collected as fines to build and maintain infrastructure and support recycling efforts.
Don't dilute the message and eventually everyone will fall in place.
What I find most surprising is how we have an aversion to the waste we create. 


Holy cows and stray dogs will find their picnic is over and move to other States where there is plenty to eat.


Ready Reckoner
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