I come from North Europe, where such epidemics as Dengue fever and chickengunya are extremely rare, nonexistent even. I’ve been travelling a lot around Europe, also a bit in Middle East and I’ve seen countries of diverse cleanliness levels. Still, to be honest, India shocked me. Taking into account that there are one billion people living in this country, there’s only very basic sanitation systems in place. In the best cases you can find dust bins here and there, the waste is collected from them and the main streets are kept relatively clean. In these cases we are happy that we need to hold our breath only in few areas on streets where the over flowing dustbins are located. Still, at least the waste is collected and taken care of. I stay in Hyderabad and from Indian standards Hyderabad is a clean city and it has every right to be proud of this. Considering global, or even Asian standards, it’s not clean. There are still the overflowing dust bins on the streets, the disordered dumping yards around the residential areas and garbage is burned on the streets. Also the fact how the collected waste is handled – or not handled – really surprised me. Dumping is not a solution, it’s postponing the problem.
I’ve come to notice that the reasons behind the present situation are well identified. The root causes are insufficiency of sanitary approaches, lack of knowledge, information, technical know how and dedicated human resource. At the same time, in Hyderabad only, over 2500 tonnes of waste is dumped daily. 2500 tonnes of waste that could be used as a resource if we just understood how.
By “we” I mean all the people. Solid waste management is not just a problem of India, Finland or any individual country. It covers the world without borders, since we all are people of same kind – we all generate waste. Unfortunately the impact is always local, community level and mainly individual. You easily feel sorry about the people infected with diseases, you feel angry if you yourself are affected, but we need to remember it happened because of our own behaviour. It’s us ourselves who generate the waste and don’t take the responsibility for it. For example, do you know what happens to the waste you generate ?
In fast developing India, there is an obvious vacuum created for practical specialist services and technology providers and the missing link is obvious. There’s a gap between the service provider and service receiver and it is growing day by day despite the many initiatives by the government. In this gap live the households, the people who carry the power of the change. It is proved that there’s no one to take care of the waste we create if we don’t take care of it ourselves at individual level. We just need to look around. The key issue is that the change for better won’t happen if we ourselves don’t see the actions to be taken to prevent the tragedy to continue and getting even worse.
CLEAN INDIA 2007 – “Local solutions for healthy world” exhibition and conference being held in Hyderabad, India on 23rd & 24th of February 2007 is a platform for people from diverse backgrounds and from different society levels to come together and find out solutions for the present situation in Solid Waste Management. By getting the service providers and service receivers around the same table, CLEAN INDIA 2007 aims to build understanding and evolve practical solutions to fill the gap of technology and knowledge.
The event launches GREEN LEAF AWARDS that are distributed to individuals, organizations and municipalities contributing to Solid Waste Management in their own areas. Nomination for the best practices is open in www.cleanindia.co.in.
After living in India for four months and working in the field of solid waste management, I do believe in the people and the future of healthy tomorrow. Because we all want it to happen. It’s just that the actions need to be taken now. Only imagine that the mountains of waste surrounding our beautiful cities could one day be turned into molehills. Will it be you to bring a breath of fresh air to the city?