Garden city to garbage city

Monsoon rains are almost here. Dark clouds are visible. Media is at it again, telling us how bad a job the city governments have done of keeping the drains unclogged. Poor municipality guys. Thanks to the increased coverage on clogged drains, they are pushing hard to clean things up.

While media highlighting the problem is perfectly fine, I just dont agree the way they just blame the city governments for it all. That is just a part of the problem; the bigger blame lies with us, the citizens.

Went to the Whitefield “downtown” on Saturday, and noticed this. The drains alongside the main road double up as garbage dump for all the street side vendors. A very popular bakery there serves snacks and pastries on paper plates, but does not provide trashcans to dispose them. I had some vegetable puffs (yum!), and when it was time to dispose my plate, I had two options. The sidewalk itself, or the drain (yuck!)? Guess what I opted for.

Went to JP Nagar to visit relatives yesterday, and I noticed the house opposite is adding an extra floor. Great, looks like the neighbours made some money! But, where do they decide to park all the construction material (sand, pebbles, bricks)? Bricks have taken up half the road; fine rainwater does not flow on the roads. But their sand found a natural place in the drain, or shall I say what-used-to-be-a-drain!

The point is this. Who is supposed to educate us all that the drains are to be left alone, and are not to be used as garbage dumps? Who is supposed to tell these fast food joints and other businesses that they got to provide trashcans, its part of the business? Who is supposed to keep the city clean?

Well, you and me. And not just the city governments.

Try telling our media to do educative stories like these. No, Sorry sir! These wont sell. We love bashing governments, and we love selling negativity.

City planning and governance issues are interlinked. What keeps happening is “more of the same”. We (citizen, media) push the government and whine that the problem is all theirs. The real issues get lost, local bodies are forced to think short term. And the bigger culprits, the citizens (including small businesses) stay scot-free.

The realistic solutions include

  1. Why leave these drains open and exposed? Cover them when you construct them
  2. Provide trashcans at busy intersections
  3. Don’t let individuals and small businesses misuse the drains
  4. Clean the drains every year before rains arrive.

We ask for and manage to do #4 year after year.

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