Showing posts with label Garbage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garbage. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rubbish! [304/365]

So what if we still don't have a comprehensive waste disposal system in place, we won't stop living it up. After a weekend of festivities our prudent authorities have confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza. Simply great!

I love chicken and although I eat it a lot less than what I used to until 2 years ago, I still think chicken is an integral part of an Indian's diet. Seeing how a pandemic like this struck at the pockets of the small poultry farmers and tourism in other Asian countries, you'd imagine India would have taken care to see it didn't occur here.

But then India has never had a comprehensive disaster recovery plan when it comes to natural or man-made disasters. We do have wonderful fiction on paper but when it comes to putting it out in action, we fail. So today Neetha declared that chicken is going to be off the menu for a while. Panic struck me. I had to educate her that there is no way that we could get it when we aren't exposed to infected poultry.

I can imagine how this is going to affect millions of people who depend on poultry in and around Bangalore. People are inadequately informed about the virus and since the government isn't doing enough to spread awareness, an outbreak like this leads to public hysteria.

It doesn't help that garbage is covering half of our streets. Years ago, Surat was in the spotlight for an outbreak of plague. While the city has managed to clean up since, you'd think our award-winning civic agency would've learned a lesson or two about public hygiene. It shouldn't really take an American newspaper to put a mirror for us to change.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- the blame lies on us.
Half of us elect people who won't disguise their greed and myopic public vision. The other half simply won't vote. The elected then rule with absolutely no fear of a recall and impose themselves on us. We complain. We threaten. And thanks to our electoral system, we loose our resolve to unseat the corrupt.
Repeat cycle.

If you haven't voted until now, I won't force you to change your habit.
But remember that by not voting for the right person/party, you loose the chance to change.
You become a mute spectator to mutiny that you could have prevented.
You put yourself at the mercy of scumbags that were voted by illiterate slum-dwellers whose only interest was in free packets of biriyani, booze and Rs 500. Or mixer grinder, fans, TVs and laptops if you are in TN.
But ofcourse, you won't need any of these since you are indignant and dont want to vote.
I won't force you to vote since you think you are not going to be affected regardless of who is in power.
But this I will tell you- By allowing one corrupt politician to be voted into power today, he/she is going to do everything in their power to remain there. They will loot as much as they can lay their eyes on. They will covet every rupee that you pay in taxes and you own. They will create laws that will affect you- the guy/gal who didn't vote for them. That's right, they wont discriminate. They will loot and swindle every anna paisa you have until you are dead. And then in five years, they will come back with packets of biriyani and empty balloons of promises and win their votes and you won't be able do squat about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Segregation. What Segregation? [291/365]

Lost in translation
Back when I was growing up, one of the most distinctive aspects of a residential area would be a grand mosque every 500 to 800 mtrs, immaculate streets which were swept atleast once a day, a cooperative (aka supermarket), plenty of tiny grocers and atleast one police outpost for managing the area. This was the blueprint and baring a few areas, you could bet your shorts that you'll find all these and more in each the dozen residential areas in the tiny oil-rich emirate.
Ofcourse, there would not be a single piece of garbage lying unattended and abandoned. None of the distinctive trash bins would overflow and littering did attract a huge fine. Even their huge fleet of trash compactors were clean and never had pieces of garbage sticking/hanging/flying out. Well, you could say that they had the luxury of millions of petrol-dinars.

Circa 2012: Every street corner, every vacant/semi-vacant plot, every disused footpath is stinking evidence of how our politicians hate us. Its not as if we have been producing more junk now, but its just living proof of how myopic our administrators are. Strangely, they appear to have excellent vision when it comes to securing their own families.
Landfills are not inexhaustible and even a 5th grader could tell you how long it would take a landfill with a limited capacity to fill up with the millions of tons garbage that is dumped everyday.
Ironically, we were called the garden city, silicon city and the city of a thousand lakes. A city where pensioners found their paradise on earth. I remember Bangalore as a city which was air-conditioned all the year round, with evening showers every day and wide tree-lined roads with very little pandemonium. Ofcourse, I could go on and on about how the past was wonderful.
When the local civic agencies announced the segregation with much fanfare, I was doubtful. None of the trash-collectors were aware or briefed on what they would need to do. A huge majority of the apartment complexes didn't have recycling units within their premises and no one knew how to segregate. Neetha and I educated our watchman on garbage segregation and even labeled the three bins so that residents would not mix the trash. A week later, even with a huge label, I saw an 'educated' lady from our apartment throw her sanitary pad in the bin marked 'Wet Waste'. What's the point?
I tried circulating an helpful note on segregation hoping that would clear the cobwebs of doubts from our hon'ble fellow residents. I am yet to see how that worked.
Today, as I went to work I saw the trash collectors wheel in their trash carts with 4 different bins and dump them all in one huge stinking pile. So much for segregation if the trash collectors themselves decide to mix it back. I wonder who's the wiser here.
As garbage begins to pile up, again, it is anyone's guess how this will end- In the grand time-tested way everything else works in Bangalore, this will also die a quick death with a politician who will arm-twist villagers to let all of us take a dump (pun intended) right at their doorstep. And soon, we will have another controversy to fawn over.

Recently we became the first city in India to have exclusive cycle lanes. Politicians and movie stars vied for a piece of the spotlight when it was officially inaugurated. Barely hours later, the euphoria died down and our motorists decided to park, drive and pretty much deny cyclists their lane. Big deal! Try denying right of way to a motorist in traffic and you'll live to see his fury. Today, the cycle lane is missing much of the paint, the signboards are drowned out by the 'No turn' boards and you'll cars, motorbikes and every other motorized vehicle known to man parked in these lanes.

Why is it so hard for us to adopt green living?
We hate recycling except if it is fancy polythene bags. We won't bother carrying our own shopping bags when shopping and we are reluctant to reduce the trash that we generate.
What's wrong with us, really?
We fling our garbage bags off our kitchen windows and balconies into the nearest vacant plot (aka landfill) and it is off our minds. This has to change.

Democratically, we are a very placid nation. And for this reason, the people in Kerala are a world apart because they won't hesitate to bring down their leaders (physically and otherwise) if they aren't happy with them. Which is one of the few reasons why the State has grown in leaps and bounds in the last two decades.

With dengue and related diseases on the raise, it appears that our holy cows are not the only creatures benefiting from this unexpected windfall.

I'm disheartened with the fact that we have a bunch of no-good geezers and intellectually-challenged goons leading us. This we gotta change.

Monday, October 01, 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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The city of a thousand stink [239/365]

Two decades ago, Bangalore was known as a city of Gardens and a Pensioner's Paradise.
Ten years ago, India's Silicon City.
Today, it earns a new sobriquet for itself- Stink City.

Even as the city reels with a water crisis, there are a lot of reasons why its citizens won't see the light of a solution for its garbage. Ruled by land-sharks and businessmen masquerading as politicians, the city has gone from being one city with broad lanes and a thousand lakes to that where pedestrians won't dare step out.

Landlocked with such culture, heritage, and blessed with weather that would make any visitor its fan, Bangalore is a fine example of how you can run a city into the drain.
We are plagued with power outages, inefficient administrators, potholed roads and crime anywhere you turn.

When you look for a home, you no longer ask if that area has steady running water and facilities, but you silently pray that it gets better and quieter. You no longer ask if there is a hospital or a school nearby but if the garbage will be collected and cleared on time.

Garbage segregation and trash collection in Bangalore is a myth. A couple of years ago, there used to a show on television called 'Faking it'. Today, as our politicians fake it and duel within themselves, the real issues are being white-washed over. Landfills are exhaustible and it does not take a genius to realize that. Segregation and recycling are not terms from sci-fi anymore. Dozens of countries and millions of households around the world are already doing their bit. While Indians have always been known to reuse and refuse, if our overflowing garbage bins and spots are any indication, I am beginning to think our garbage is the same as our corruption. There isn't a single person who can clear up the muck that we all contribute to. Our scavengers (holy cows included) are however having new items on their menu.

Bangalore- City of hundred dead lakes, thousand holy cows and a million tons of garbage.
Let's toast to that!

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