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As if Garbage on the Streets wasn’t enough..

July 24, 2008


Staying in a city gives you enough reasons to crib about the air pollution. Most of it is through vehicle exhausts, air conditioning by products and gaseous and particulate industrial wastes. But I have noticed that there is another contributor in air contamination too – garbage.

If I even take a conservative estimate, around 25-30% of the city lives in slums. Slums don’t have the necessary municipal provisions for disposal of waste. So what do the slum-dwellers do with most of their garbage? Either throw it in the waste water drainage lines directly or burn it. While wet garbage is generally thrown in the mirky and stenchful streams of sewage (which is how it smells even worse), the dry garbage is generally burnt. Notwithstanding the fact that the former presents a big problem in itself, it is the latter that is directly affecting a lot of city residents.

This garbage is burnt using dry straw and paper as the accelerant. Even a 10th standard child would know that these amount to a highly inefficient combustion process, creating a lot of smoke and harmful particles that directly enter the atmosphere. Now assuming that so many such fires are set in place in different parts of the city at the same time of the day, it will be criminal to ignore its contribution to air pollution.

Another big big observation I have made is, people from even other sections of the society have embraced this as a means of garbage disposal (technically destruction). They find this to be the most convenient way of disposing paper documents and old disks/Cd’s which may have had data of past significance to the person. Who will take the effort of shredding each document individually or breaking/scratching each disk separately when you can all pile them up and burn them at one go. Needless to say, they churn up a different class of air pollutants all together.

What we need is active citizen groups in each area to take to responsibility. We, as educated members of the city, spread awareness about the best ways to dispose garbage. There are a lot of societies that insist on segregation of wet and dry waste, but then they are too few in a number to make a big difference. Besides, you can’t expect a slum dweller to think about pollution and its ill-effects on the city unless he is made aware of the harm it is doing to his own well-being. NGOs are trying, but they can only create a ripple considering the scale of their operations in the country. We need more, much more!

Cloud covered mountains in their natural splendour present a pleasing sight to the eyes , but not within the boundaries of a congested city where the mountains are made of trash and the clouds of smoke!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2008 9:13 pm

    yes we need to form organizations….yes we need to spread awareness….but are our people ready to be convinced? While we must start at once,we also need to do another thing,i.e.,talk to people about what is happening and spread the awareness…

  2. July 25, 2008 12:27 am

    Yes, this is a major problem. As you have mentioned, it’s not just the slum dwellers, everybody is responsible. Mostly all of us here give our rubbish to kachra waalas who collect it and either dump it somewhere or burn it. So in a way, everyone is responsible and we should take care that the kachra waala dumps it at the municipality dumps from where they collect and recycle it, that’s important.

  3. July 25, 2008 11:17 pm

    but, incineration is the fastest way to get rid of waste. I dont think it produces much pollution. if i wasnt sleeping in my evs class, till i remember, incineration is an eco-friendly way to dispose garbage.

  4. July 25, 2008 11:27 pm

    Incineration is ok if carried out in small quantities. But if you want a perspective, why do you think are cremations carried out in electric ovens now? Because burning the body produces a lot of pollution apart from the unnecessary use of wood. So burning is a sureshot way of destroying garbage, but I don’t know if it is ecofriendly all the time.

  5. July 26, 2008 5:18 pm

    “Cause awareness” .
    As far as I remember even the person who is ‘aware’ of all the (eco-friendly) methods of waste disposal continues with dumping up the garbage at all odd places.
    How can we make the system work for our streets, then for our areas, then in larger sub-urbs of the city is the question.

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