In our day-to-day digital lives, we tend to be efficient. Our activities demonstrate that. We segregate files, classifying it meticulously in folders, scanning for viruses, clearing unwanted photos, videos, files and chats and sending it to bin. We even clear our “Recycle bin” isn’t it? It gives a sense of happiness when our laptops and phones are digitally tidy. But it’s befuddling that we care so much for a piece of Silicon whereas we neglect the very nature which nurtures and sustains us. Even Microsoft is smart enough to provide an option to restore the “waste” (deleted files) if that is of any value to user. But somehow our waste management skills stop with digital world. Why do our intelligence, innovation and care stop just with devices? A question to ponder…
June 5th is commemorated as the World Environment Day with specific topics and themes every year. This year, the theme is aptly given – ‘Connecting People to nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator’. Our PM Narendra Modi has announced that we will mark this day with massive clean drive. We have indeed lost the connection to the Mother Nature, who has given every aspect we need: clean air, pristine water and glorified land. But we are her spoilt children, ransacking anything on the way in the name of economic development. There are zillion examples to prove this and I have taken the most recent one:
Captured in Bengaluru, the above scene makes us believe that someone had celebrated a big Birthday Party on the Road with snow machine just as we do in hostels and homes. Sadly, it isn’t the true. Foam emanated from the Varthur Lake after heavy rains lashed and bashed Bengaluru. The situation was so grotesque and horrific that the foam had overflowed the wired mesh erected around the lake on to the roads. It is causing skin irritations and allergies and even helmet wearers weren’t spared. The Subramanyapura Lake situated there has also followed suit. The problem of frothing in lakes is attributed to dumping of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and waste water without any treatment. Such is the condition of the IT capital of India which was once garlanded and celebrated as “The Garden City of India”. Improper Waste Management has been our Modus Operandi in killing our environment.
Let us start with the condition of Municipal Solid Waste management (MSW) in which we all play a role. No city in India has ever achieved complete source segregation of MSW. Waste generated in India by 2021 would need 590 sq.km of landfill which is greater than the area of Hyderabad (583 sq.km), the largest Indian city, area-wise. People who have visited the most popular hill stations in Tamil Nadu – Kodaikanal and Ooty would know one or two about MSW. These two towns are perfect examples to throw light on waste mismanagement. Only our contribution can save us from this imminent disaster. We, with source segregation can turn the tables around. Have we ever put our organic, inert and recyclable wastes separately? We have never cared even after Corporation issued separate bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes? Those two bins are used to store water in my home. Even when I persuade my family to segregate wastes, they tend to go back to old practices citing that segregation means extra bags are wasted for collecting different wastes!
We can’t blame their ignorance; of course they don’t know the ill-effects of improper management. Blame is to be put on Governments and Educated People who don’t spread awareness. I dare say educated people are the very reason for this wreckage around. Illiterate people care for vegetation. It is the “developed Man” who has uprooted trees for concretes, has thrown plastic bottles from cars and trains, throwing napkins of new-born without a thought for environment. This has to end. Myself, the educated one in my home should preach waste segregation. Thus, every youth should take up this position in their homes. There will be mental Inertia at the start and it will be overpowered through knowledge.
There is some good news too. Bengaluru has at last decided to segregate waste and has achieved 50% segregation at source!!! Sunya project (Zero Waste) is being followed in Ward 23 (R.S.Puram Area) of Coimbatore. The residents are provided with a green and a white bag. Wet wastes (vegetable,fruit,cooked and uncooked,biodegradables) are dumped in green bag while recyclables (paper,metals,plastics) are placed in white. Sanitary wastes are collected separately. The ITC Company procures and recycles them while cleaners collect the wet waste and compost it. The Compost/manure is given to the residents free of cost which is used up for gardening! By recycling, we can reduce our carbon and water footprint. This is some serious work of waste management which has to be scaled up to all wards and finally to cities. Plus there is still no study to quantify the amount of Methane Gas emitted from the biodegradable waste lumps in our dump yards and landfills. This Gas can trap heat 25 times greater than CO2. So, irregular waste management contributes to Global Warming by methane emission and also by new carbon footprints by neglecting items with reuse and recyclable value.
Coimbatore has set a target of 100% segregation of waste by June 5 but it still remains on paper. Poor administration, lack of awareness and an attitude of apathy has all led to this grave situation. At least, we should do our bit to educate our family, friends and neighbours. Next time, we shouldn’t let plastics and potato wastes to be in the same bag. Let us vow to segregate wastes from this day forever. Because it is our responsibility.
Speaking of responsibilities, let’s not “covfefe” about President Trump’s withdrawal from Paris accord. It is disheartening to hear people say saving environment affects economic growth. “Making America Great Again”. The only chance to Make America Great Again lies in the hands of citizens of the US when they will be voting in the next election. We have to thank the circumstances that won’t allow the US to back out of Paris Accord till 2020. But the stage has been nicely set up for European Developed Nations and the opportunity is even greater for developing ones like India and China. India has a Per Capita Carbon Emission sixteen times lower than that of the US and has still pledged to act for the betterment of earth with China too exhibiting similar commitments. Everyone speak of Cow in India… From giving it Aadhar like card to making it National animal, unfortunately no one thinks of using its excreta to convert into excellent biogas which can be used as Fuel for transportation and even electricity cutting down our dependence on oil. This is an excellent case of waste turned to wealth.
So, friends let us ratify our own climate change accord to cut down our own emission and carban footprint as it is THE BEST WAY AHEAD TO SAVE OUR ONLY EARTH…