Making peace with civic sense

Making peace with civic sense

Making peace with civic sense

“All the world’s a stage,” so said Shakespeare. Our metro cities have over the years re-invented Bard’s words and made it into, “All the world’s a garbage dump”.

 Major metros like Bangalore or Delhi produce tonnes of garbage every day and a percentage of them are dumped in the vacant plots in our neighbourhood. On my way to work in Bangalore, I used to tread delicately over the spill over of garbage that was dumped in a particular vacant plot, till I noticed that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike had come up with a novel way of stopping people using the vacant ground as an open garbage. 

They had cleaned the plot, fenced it and had placed God’s picture of all faith around the same.  I also noticed that there was a sharp decline in the  volume of dumping  for the following few days, only to see that things are back to the square one with the garbage getting dumped with  the God’s bowing their head down in shame.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s clarion call for “Swachh Bharat’ has caught the imagination across nation. We have school children cleaning up their schools and working professional hitting the streets and cleaning them up. Plenty of media ink and the air time have been devoted over this project, yet we have a majority of the citizens going back to their old ways of keeping their personal premises clean while spoiling the public space.

Not an overnight miracle

Cleaning up of a city is not an easy job or an overnight one.  It needs a concerted, continued effort of the local civic corporation and the citizens.  It cannot be said that it is only the uneducated and illiterate who deface the city.  Most  cities don’t have dustbins on the roads.

I remember my friend giving me directions to her house way back in the 1980s. She told me that her house was diagonally opposite the dust bin!  The dustbins used to be huge and cemented one. Then, came the time when these were removed to prevent people from practicing ‘their throw’ and were replaced by a movable cart.  They too disappeared ostensibly to be replaced by door-to –door collection of garbage.

This does not happen on a regular basis. Many a times, the dustbins adorn the compound wall of my house for two to three days in a row. With no dustbins in the vicinity and no garbage man to collect, people may be on the lookout for empty plots.  They simply dump a plastic bag that is torn open by the stray dogs and then the resultant litter.

This habit of cleanliness and taking care of the environment should be taught right from childhood by environmentally aware adults. The chocolate paper is often screwed up and thrown on the road, lift, stairway and everywhere. One chocolate paper does not cause any harm is the instantaneous feeling but multiplied by the children of our city it is a huge number.

The other day, a party was held in the club house of a nearby apartment block. The next morning was a sight to behold. The paper plates, napkins, paper cups were everywhere including in the swimming pool!  A party held by the affluent, in an affluent society behaved in a totally despicable manner. How sad!

Civic sense has been truly lost. In the recent FIFA world cup, Japan won the heart of the stadium despite losing.  They cleaned up the stadium.  They have a quaint habit, win, lose or draw- there’s never an excuse to leave your section of a soccer stadium less tidy than how you found it. That’s been the view of Japanese fans for years!

Can we think of leaving the multiplexes the way we found it without leaving behind coke cup and popcorn boxes?  Again, I believe that there are not adequate numbers of dustbins placed strategically. 

I remember my ‘matriculation passed’ mother collect all the waste that could be recycled and using the same for her garden plants. Every household in my colony used to do that. Even the water used for washing of rice used to be collected and used for watering of plants and the plants used to thrive.

Came education and we forgot about our environment and gave more priority to
the ease with which we can live.  The advent of ‘easy to carry plastic bags’ added to our woes.

Swachh Bharat can happen only if the individual household take care to prevent
littering the surrounding area ably aided by the civic authorities and government for
a better infrastructure for waste disposal.