Showing posts with label Waste Segregation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Waste Segregation. Show all posts

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

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