Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Plastic Ban, Clean City & Punekars!

“Civilization is the distance that man has placed between himself and his own excreta.”... Brian W. Aldiss.

Brian Wilson Aldiss, was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for science fiction novels and short stories. And indeed going by the all recent sci-fi movies our planet's biggest enemy won’t be any alien with their eyes bigger than their head types but our own generated garbage which Aldiss is referring as excreta & yes majority of it will be plastic! There had been many science fiction movies where everything was shown made up of plastic even trees & with the rate we are going sure it wouldn’t have been long for us to live that kind of life, so rampant is our use of plastic! We human especially Indians are a funny specie as we care even for single rupee for saving while buying vegetables & then we live as if there is no tomorrow, caring a hoot about nature or any such thing! Few decades back when plastic (read carry bags or bottles) was not so common I remember to going to the vegetable market with my father carrying cloth carry bags from home as well we used to take along steel Tiffin boxes & steel water bottles, at the most aluminum to the schools. But nobody noticed when all these traditional things got outdated (read out-fashioned) & there was plastic everywhere; well nobody noticed means human, nature was taking notice silently in its own way!

And this plastic named poison, as anything in excess is poison & plastic also isn’t exception to this law, was not just problem of so called big cities like Pune; if you visit any small village which are usually bordered by a stream or river or nallah on both entrance & exit to the village, you will find mounds of all sort of plastic waste aligned near these natural water flows. Reason is simple here in Pune at-least somebody (read PMC) comes at your door steps & collect the plastic waste but who will do this in towns & villages but nature! Confused, well, all this plastic waste keeps on getting accumulated along the banks of natural water bodies till monsoon & then rains brings floods & floods washes away all the plastic stuff further down polluting rivers & finally the oceans!  For years this was a routine but seems 24th May will be historic day as on this day our State declared ban on plastic of all forms especially carry bags, plastic containers, bottles & yes hoardings flex showing us happy (read ugly) faces of our self proclaimed leaders!

No two minds about the damage to entire environment by plastic but a ban without any fall back is the issue which common man is facing! Our govt is that way very active, when it doesn’t find a solution to some problem it declares ban; may it be stopping new constructions due to water scarcity or banning guthka sale i.e. form of tobacco (by the way production is not banned) or this latest plastic ban all are examples of govt’s inefficiency in a way for not being able to find proper solution to the main cause of the problem! For example we consider our Pune city is smart city as well we are ranked as number ten, amongst all the cities in the countries on the chart of cleanliness! Well, Indore ranks first in cleanliness & I haven’t been there recently so I can’t imagine the comparison between Pune & Indore but then why cleanliness needs any comparison as something is dirty & something is clean, it doesn’t need any scale to measure! And all those Punekar’s with or without famous (now infamous) “Puneri Pagdi”, is our city clean really & free from plastic waste? Ask this question to our-self & then pat our backs for being 10th cleanliest city in the country! Every day I walk on the streets of this city & one look I have on the garbage collecting truck drivers & workers on that truck & even “pity” isn’t the word enough to describe their faces, as what kind of life these people has to live because of we the “Shameless Dirty Punekars!

The problem with our city is not plastic or garbage but our attitude towards dealing the garbage! Consider the western countries, they too have problems with plastic & such stuff yet I don’t remember any country even USA which is inventor of plastic has ever required to ban plastic or any other material. Because these countries have not only made their citizens available other recyclable alternative material for plastic as well they don’t have to fight over garbage depot type issue to take care of their day to day generated plastic waste!

The mistake that too repeatedly we keep on doing is we accept plastic is bad for environment but we don’t find alternative to replace it because it’s easier to ban use of plastic without giving a second thought what people will do for their daily needs! And then we have able & efficient govt departments which at such time very effective show their law & enforcement powers which otherwise are sleeping on all other fronts such as illegal constructions or encroachment on the footpaths or such public properties! Immediately the squads are formed & started raiding people (read shopkeepers) mostly smaller establishments & next day’s news papers are full with the amount of fines collected from various ward office range squads! Snaps clicked & dually published in media via public relation office of PMC as well other govt bodies. The question I will ask is what all these so called efficient govt departments were & are doing while every garbage bin on the road was over flowing with plastic waste & every stream, river even our oceans are getting dumped with all sorts of plastic by these very people of the society!  What efforts we have taken then to stop the pollution as out of world’s most polluted cities we have many of them & when we take competition amongst our cities it’s like running race between crippled i.e. handicapped persons (with due respect even the handicapped persons have more commitment towards fitness) & the we declare best amongst the cripples & pat our own backs! Have we got daring to take a competition with some city in Japan or Europe even with Dubai which is in backyard of ours on the scale of cleanliness & then see where we really stand on this front which is most important in urbanization?

As take a look at Pune city, it will overtake population figure of fifty lacs this decade but are we geared up to provide a clean & healthy environment for this population in first place? When we call ourselves clean city (again with due respect to PMC we are much cleaner than many other cities in the country) has the opinion of citizens taken care in account? Every day news-papers publish garbage bins over flowing on the roads & garbage being thrown in all corners of the city, under the bridge, on empty plats, in river bed, you name the place & you will find garbage there. Then take a look at our public toilets, I think after the garbage trucks another shameful sight is of our public toilets & still we call us cleanliest city! Whom we are making fool but our own self! Many will say how is this related to real estate, well it means a lot as a good real estate potential city must be clean & garbage free as that assures health of the citizens which unfortunately we don’t have. And why PMC at least it has some infrastructure in place what about PMRDA, has someone gone around & seen the scene of garbage in the so called villages under PMRDA, well if you haven’t then do go & then you will realize why we lack in urban planning! Because does it matter if a person is living in PMC or PCMC or PMRDA as these are the notional boundaries defined for administrative purpose of govt, practically all is Pune region, so how can one PMC ranks 10th while PCMC ranks 43rd & PMRDA hasn’t been part of competition of cleanliness (better or we would have been required to find the place in that chart)!

Need of the time is like water, make cleanliness as core part of everything right from education to every private & govt work establishments, as to keep a city clean you don’t need some garbage depot or garbage processing plant or garbage collection vehicles (“ghanta gadi” as they are popularly known as) but you need a clean attitude & that of every citizen, which exactly is missing from the city!  Form enough squads not just for fine people with the plastic carry bags but to that every person who makes this city dirty & do it regardless of that person’s position or status! And before that first make the people aware about their role in cleanliness, then give them alternative for things like plastic & then punish them if they still don’t improve; is the way we make a city clean & for that we doesn’t need any competition. And the one most important fact in managing garbage we are forgetting (read our govt) & that is ever growing population as who generates the garbage but we the people & what are we trying to control the population as that is main reason of ever growing garbage may it be plastic today tomorrow there will be something different! As more the population then considering our basic needs of living we are going to generate waste in all forms, if we really want to curb the waste at source then do it at root level is population, which we are turning a blind eye on!

As do we need to compete in any competition for making our own home clean, no, is the answer then why we need it for city, is the question we should ask! And here CREDAI or MBVA which are real estate people’s organizations should take the lead as it’s like watering a tree by birds (which poor specie can’t do by their own home) as if we make this city more better then only it will become more livable & do I need to explain the so called business minds in real estate, who will get benefitted if the city becomes more livable! As it’s not the numbers which will define our rank in cleanliness but the actual condition of our rivers, streets & public toilets will tell that story, lets remind this fact to ourselves & the cleanliness drive starts from inside out & not vice-versa, so first start cleaning our mindsets & then only we will be able to make our city real clean!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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