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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Swachh Bharat, littered streets and the missing trash cans

Once upon a time in the golden past, though not so golden when you think of it. Still, if you observed minutely you might have found some streaks of gold, if you were lucky. At that time, Mumbai could boast of little penguins along the streets. No, no, it’s the truth. That was when we weren’t worried about global warming. If you were lucky enough to have seen Mumbai during 1990’s you might have seen them. No kid could resist the lure of feeding those pretty black and white creatures with yellow beaks. We couldn’t just throw the rubbish on the road, and miss the chance of getting close to the penguin. Yes, I’m talking of the striking trash cans of Mumbai which resembled a penguin. It wasn’t like any trash can, but a cute penguin.


As children, we were in awe of the penguins. They were as much an attraction as any picnic site. But, as I grew up the penguins vanished without a trace. Last year, when I went to Gateway with my nephew, I couldn’t show him any penguins or any other trash cans in Mumbai. I was worried. Was there a possibility, the penguins had migrated to the poles, and the poor authorities couldn’t find any substitute?


Now, you might be intrigued as to why am I talking about penguins and trash cans. The truth is that like our Honorable Prime Minister, I have got broom on my mind. So, when everyone started campaigning for Swachh Bharat, I couldn’t help but get interested in the matter. When I saw the ministers sweeping the garbage, and the trash carts which seem to appear magically as soon as the garbage was collected, I was left wide-eyed. How I wish these politicians and celebrities could teach that spell to us poor mortals! Whenever I have trash, forget a trash cart, not even a small bin appears. I have to carry it for miles and miles or my home ( whichever is nearer) to dispose it.
  
Talking of the penguins, the most acceptable theory of their disappearance is that nobody used them, so the poor penguins were depressed, and the authorities dismissed them. What’s the use of mere bins when they weren’t useful? I never questioned the authorities on the point because I understand the difference between adult and child vision. The full dust bin to a child’s eye might be a rarely used and empty bin to an adult. What I saw as a child could be mere stuffing of the toy instead of trash as I imagined. Now, when I went to Matheran I started having doubts about that theory.

Matheran- Two trash cans

In Matheran, I saw a strange occurence. Instead of one, they had two types of dust-bins at regular intervals instead. Was there a different dust-bin for males and females, I wondered. I know the idea seems wierd but then, I keep an open mind when I think about our government plans. However, it seems that the civic authority of Matheran wasn’t queer, but smart. (Thanks to my open mind, I wasn’t surprised by this fact.)
 
You see the dust-bin on the right side, the cylindrical one, open at the top is the old one. It was a prim dust-bin just like it should be, and it was used too. At least half the people did use it anyway but, so did the monkeys. Matheran is infested with monkeys. They are cute and enhance the attraction of Matheran,but the monkeys of Matheran consider the dust-bins as their private little treasure hunt. The little rebels have their own outlook in life. They took exception to the rule that the garbage belonged in the dust-bin, and believed the opposite. In their search for treasures, they littered the street with trash which they removed from the dust-bin.

The harassed authority devised a plan, and had the new dust-bin installed. Thus, came the dust-bin on the left, the one which looks like a letter-box. As you can see from the picture, it would be difficult for anyone to remove the trash from the small, oblique opening. Still, I’ve heard sometimes, baby monkeys can still get through to the trash. However, the important fact is that the dust-bins in Matheran aren’t just road-side decorations. They are used which I confirmed with my adult eyes. This fact has resulted in somewhat cleaner city. So, I wonder if people can use dust-bins in Matheran (which is also in India) then how can authorities be confident that it’s useless to have dust-bins in other cities. Shouldn’t Mumbai which is any day more crowded than Matheran have more dust-bins?

If there is a budget problem, maybe we should ask Matheran authorities for the older bin. Either that or the politicians should consider teaching us the aforementioned spell so that we can conjure up a dust-bin as soon as we accumulate trash.

You might want to read my earlier article The city needs trash cans when I realised how difficult it is to teach good manners.

What do you think about the missing trash cans? Is there something, you think necessary for clean India? Do share your views. I’d love to hear them.

22 comments:

  1. There seems to be enough trash cans around here, but people themselves litter all around the cans! It's time we start maintaining our streets properly.

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never visited Chennai, but it's good to know Chennai authorities are so adept. At least Swachh Bharat campaign will succeed in that city. I believe, Modi has a lot of influence with people. There is a chance people will bother about maintaining cleanliness now.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  2. Good you brought up the point Kiran. Hope they are soon able to fathom the mystery of missing trash bins in Mumbai.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. I hope, we soon see some trash cans. And hope they are well-maintained too.

      Delete
  3. Monkeys are quite intelligent.... :-D

    However, trash-cans/ dustbins are really important. They help much to keep a city comparative clean.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maniparna.
      Monkeys are definitely intelligent, and cute too. :)
      Yeah, we need to understand the importance of dustbins.

      Delete
  4. Interesting insight, Kiran. Impressed with your intelligence & management skill and above all, with your dedication SwachhIndia :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Ravish. Swachh India has been every Indian's dream since long. We all have to contribute to realise it.

      Delete
  5. Point well brought up Kiran... I remember during those bomb blasts in Delhi, many of dustbins were removed by stating that terrorists use them as a safe spot for planting bombs. That was the most lame excuse I have ever read till date.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amita. That is indeed a very lame excuse. I can't understand, how the authorities find silly excuses for their every duty. The point is India can't be clean if the celebrities sweep the area once a month. For a real clean country, public should be ready and authorities interested.

      Delete
  6. Good points Kiran.
    hahaha - a different trash can for male and female - funny thought :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) Thanks a lot, Kalpana. Have a great day!

      Delete
  7. Nice article Kiran, last week when I was in India, it happened on two occasions when i wanted to dispose of something and couldn't find a dust bin for nearly 500 meters in sight so I truly agree city needs trash cans. Plus I liked the Matheran example and Mumbai in particular can take cues from it. I have nominated you for the very inspiring blog award, hope you accept it, you can view your nomination here https://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=428262

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shweta. I'm honoured by the award.
      Most of the tourists (and also locals) face the same problem. For people to use the dust-bins, we need to install dust-bins first. Matheran authorities have posed a good example.

      I hope, next time you visit, you find a clean India.

      Delete
  8. Where is my comment?

    I wish other cities follow suit. When I read it, I thought you were talking about real penguins. I bet such dustbins evoked many childhood fantasies.

    Hope India becomes cleaner with the kinds of campaigns live and active today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did your comment disappear too? Many of my friends told me that, their comment doesn't get published. I couldn't find the problem. :( I'll try adding facebook comment box.

      Thanks, Saru. The penguin dust-bins were indeed a food for our imaginations.

      I hope that India becomes cleaner, too.

      Delete
    2. I guess, check your spam folder.

      Delete
  9. Very right observations, Kiran.
    I love your solution to the budget problem too :)
    Hope our cities have more bins. Much needed.
    Hope we all work for a Swachh Bharat.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice blog kiran. your observation is right, but people also support the authorities...
    Public + Govt. = Clean Cities = SWACHA BHARAT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. A very accurate equation.

      Delete

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