Think about our Garbage!

The week before, Puneites woke up to find the city's garbage bins overflowing with three days garbage. The stink was evident when a waft of breeze flowed through Pune in those 3-4 days. having 'endured' this ordeal, Puneites saw the garbage collection resume its normal routine since yesteray and smiles appeared on our faces. The garbage was 'rightfully' being collected and taken away...away from our backyards!
Today I had a chance to speak to a young leader from Devachi Urali. He started talking with an apology. He apologized to us Puneites for having inconvenienced us for the past week. after all it was the agitation led by him and his collegues that was stopping the garbage trucks from dumping the 1200 tonnes of solidwaste that Pune generates everyday. He then went on to explain how he and his entire village is putting up with Pune's garbage for the past 18 years!
He told me a story of his neighbor, a middle aged woman that works as a daily labourer on a farm and singly earns for her family of four, has to fish out flies out of the milk for her kids as they eat their food. A small entreprenuer who washes and stitches clothes for the villagers, cannot hand her clothes to dry in the night. Every morning she finds fly eggs on her washed laundry. For the past 20 days, the garbage dump was on fire. 400 tankers were pressed into service to douse the noxious flames and after a battle of 20 days, the fire was controlled. While this fire was raging, women, children, pregnant women were all inhaling the toxic fumes that flowed freely through their homes.
And I haven't even started on the issues of water contamination that these villagers face everyday. All the wells and groundwater sources are contaminated beyond recovery. The toxic leacheates have permeated into the land and has reached the pure and otherwise safe source of water, destroying not just the land quality but also contaminating the entire water table.
Today, I am dreading the thought of taking my garbage out tomorrow morning. Why have we come at this point? The Supreme Court of India has directed all the citizens of India to segregate the biodegradable and recyclable waste at our homes in 2000. The villagers at Urali Devachi have expressed that they can tackle the biodegradable waste, which they can convert to manure. But they cannot do anything with the waste it is mixed with plastics! Are we so indulgent and insensitive that we cannot take responsibility for our actions? We have stripped the right of the villagers to a dignified human existence in their own home!
As I write this, the time has come to act! Let us resolve to become a ZERO garbage city. The 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and Waste Segregation are the two mantras towards this goal! For puneites, this challenge is worht taking...or else we will leave behind a legacy of garbage dumps for our children!


  1. आप की सोच काफी अच्छी है, लेकिन यदि आप अपने लेखन में हिन्दी का प्रयोग करेंगे तो अच्छा रहेगा.

  2. Thanx, Anagha, for turning the focus on the terrible plight of Uruli - truly a God-forsaken place that has lost its entitlement to the prefix "Devachi" due to our sheer callousness and insensitivity to our peripheral rural environment.
    It is fine for you to suggest the 3-R formula, but DO think about WHY we are facing this surge in the GENERATION of so much NON-biodegradable solid wastes in the first place! The double standards that we 'Urbanites' live with, and our 'altered' mindsets which are insensitive to the impact of our lifestyles on our Environment are primarily responsible for churning out this daily bulk of 1200 tonnes which we dump on Uruli.

    Commercialization and consumerism has brought us to a stage where we CANNOT - or perhaps, DO NOT- think of nipping the problem in the bud.

    Can we even think of buying MILK from a 'doodhwala' out of a ladle - like in old times ? NO - it has to be a hygenic tetrapak or at least a Plastic pouch. Will we really opt for 'exposed' sweetmeats from a halwai, or fruits and vegetables from a roadside 'bhajiwala' over the alternative of neatly ( and hygenically) 'packaged' ware so attractively displayed on the shelves of air-conditioned Malls ? Can we recall the last time we had an ice-cream that did NOT come out of a synthetic 'packaging' in the deep freezer ? THESE are the places where the 1200 tonnes get generated everyday - and there is very little that we will do about it.

    Our economy and our Industry is really growing NOT because we have suddenly become very smart or very industrious, but because we are happily embracing the global 'consumerism'on one side and legally ALLOWING the processing and manufacture of all kinds of NON-BIODEGRADABLE toxic Plastics and hazardous Synthetics that can no longer be legally produced in most of the developed countries ... Notwithstanding the 'price' that the poor villagers of Devachi Uruli are PAYING for our indulgence !!

    No, Anagha, JUST the 3-R formula WONT work. We need more of you ERIN BROKOWITCH types for whistleblowing on the REAL POLITIK around us !

    Thanx, again, for a very good Blog.

    Rajiv Raje

  3. I think its time that we as responsible citizens take this matter in our hands. Past experience has shown that the municipal corporation is not at all serious about the garbage issue. As an example- in 2003 our society in kothrud had employed a rag-picker who came and collected garbage from our door steps. all we had to do was separate plastics & other such, from the kitchen waste and hand it over to him. Those two years our society did not have any garbage bins and was clean. this initiative was proposed by the PMC. and one fine day the rag picker stopped coming and there was garbage everywhere!
    If we are aping the developed countries in consumerism, we should go a step further and see how many types of garbage bins they have for different types of waste. The most important point here is that each bin is disposed off as intended, it is not mixed with other garbage once it is out of public view.
    I would also like to comment on the disposal of computer hardware, considering that in our city almost everybody has a computer and printer. Plus there is a photocopier and a printing shop in almost all localities. I cant imagine the amount of toxic waste put into our daily garbage through these avenues.
    All the same, its a good blog and I hope something worthwhile comes out of it. Keep blogging....

  4. your article was very touching. It is truly sad that villagers for no fault of theirs have to see this day. I hope you can take up a successful campaign in Pune in much the same way as we need to take in Mumbai and other cities.
    Roshni Udyavar

  5. Great blog Anagha!We punekars are itself a shame to the society. Come to think of it how long and time consuming is it to segregate our daily waste? Its not but still we just are simply lazy to do it. Its high time we stand up and take action against all the happenings in the city and wake up not towards a waste filled city but a green and better Pune city.

  6. Beautifully written, Anagha. Till until a couple of years ago, I did try to follow the seggregation... then my bais took over and no amount of khit-khit would get them to seggregate the kachra properly - this despite the fact that I had two fresh bags, color coded no less, hanging side by side each day. Somehow, I guess I too lapsed into their ways.... from now on, that's definitely not happening in my home EVER. BTW, I am currently bai-less and totally lovin' it!! :o)

  7. Ya so true.. when i saw that movie "KACHRA KONDI" i felt soooooo guilty. Time to take some action...ill need your help.. may be during ganesh chaturthi... when the locality gathers.. (one lane of patwardhan baug)in our area normally seggregation is done.. pan pudhchi action nahiye..wish to take it ahead. and that needs a lotta determination and inspiration...the latter i can gain from you.planning to give a presentation to all then on practical solutions so that the right things happen :)..!!

  8. Nicely written Anagha! It is a challenge for all of us, media to generate awareness among the people about these facts. Locating a new place away from settlements for dumping the solid waste is not long term solution.
    As you rightly mensioned 3 Rs is the key to solve the problem to certain extent and for that purpose changing the mindsets of people is a big task. We have set our minds that solid waste management is Local Self Government's responsibility...for whatever quantity of garbage we produce. We need to come out of this mind set. Our LSG also need to locate some other technological alternatives to dispose the solid waste.


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