Garbage is creating a lot of noise in Bangalore these days. It is the biggest nuisance that development causes in all urban centres. Drive to an interior village (other than the village where your city dumps the garbage, of course) and you will find it pretty clean, as compared to your own neighbourhood, where mounds of plastic garbage lie strewn beside every posh apartment complex or housing locality!
In fact, the main culprit for the acute waste disposal problems that we face today is the packaging industry which has grown unchecked over the last few decades.
In my childhood, when I went to the grocer, he would measure and pack the groceries in newspaper covers. He used to measure and pack butter in areca fronds and oil in the steel cans that we carried. Packing vegetables and fruits was unheard of, because we carried baskets to buy vegetables and fruits. Life was that simple.
But these days, even green chillies and coriander leaves are packed in plastic covers. It is very easy for BBMP to pass a rule and ban plastic! What happens to all the plastic that is used to pack each and every item that we buy from any store – groceries, vegetables, fruits, clothing, footwear, cosmetics, medicines? Even cleaning substances that were available in glass bottles earlier are being sold in plastic containers nowadays.
The organic waste that gets collected in urban centres is mind-blowing! Eateries have sprung up at every nook and corner of a city and canned and tinned food items are in vogue. The higher the socio-economic status, more is the garbage turned out by a family, because wastage of food goes uncontrolled.
Poor families cannot afford to buy readymade food or waste the food cooked. Wealthier families buy a lot of cooked or processed food, adding on both to the dry and wet garbage of the city. From where should awareness begin?
Public garbage bins have been removed to control stray dogs. But have the BBMP authorities thought of what happens to the garbage thrown by the moving populace? People buy eatables and soft drinks and strew plastic bags, leftovers and plastic bottles all over the roads. Small eateries dump paper plates, cups and leftover food in storm water drains or just on the footpath. Retailers throw all the waste from their shops on the footpath or in the storm water drain. Thus when it rains heavily, all the drains start overflowing, strewing the garbage all over the place. Roads become hell!
Garbage may the least important aspect of one’s life because it is thrown away. But it is the most important issue for civic authorities and a lot of thinking and planning must be behind managing it in the most scientific manner. It is high time BBMP took this issue seriously and conducted an in-depth study to compare the methods in which the world’s leading metros manage the issue, instead of passing hasty guidelines on a day-to-day basis, without considering the repercussions. It is not as easy as it is for a homemaker to just throw garbage across the road or a passerby to fling a banana peel on the footpath.⊕