by Sameer Majli
The status of a civilized society can comprehensively be judged by the way it maintains it’s so called dirty places. International inputs often reveal to one that in Europe and other areas that are deemed developed, the cleanest place in a hotel room, is the bathroom; so much so that Indian travellers are sometimes scared that they would dirty it by just walking around. Who in India can even dream of bathrooms with carpets!!
The state of affairs in habitats that bear the brunt of our inhabitation is something that attracts attention for the wrong reasons. It’s tradition and hence to us, garbage is something that can be anywhere else except in our own house. Convenience makes it so that a lot of stuff is just thrown across the compound with little concern over where it lands as long as it is not within the domain that we call our own. We take great pleasure in blowing up plastic bags and fruit juice tetra packs, breaking them with a bang and just leaving them to lie around as remnants of human presence. Talking about plastic wrappers is almost like taking off the wrapper of our so called civic sense, especially of us, the educated lot.
One key issue that surfaces as a major concern across town is the handling of the drainage, a byproduct of human habitation. Most drain lines in town were laid when the city was still in stages of infancy, much before the mad race for space occupation and inflow of migrants for work and retirement began. The six inch pipes that shoulder the responsibility of providing a path to the refuse are finding it hard to manage since the quantum of refuse just refuses to stay under control. The end result is clogged drain pipes and manholes spewing foul excesses onto the roads. The dumping of plastic and sanitary napkins and baby nappies down the drain also adds to prospects of this misery. One angry, unenthusiastic sanitation worker even pulled up this assorted stuff from the drain with the accusation, “This is what educated people do!”
The department that manages this insanitary state of sanitary affairs is rather short on hands since the number of people that volunteer for such services is dwindling by the day. There is a tale floating around in this mess, the tale of a relatively state of the art drain management truck, designed to effectively and mechanically sort out this great inconvenience. It uses a mechanized system and there is a series of what they call “rods” that take up the task of clearing the clog. One glance at the work being done would reveal a team of rather sullen humans using the rods manually to try and clear the blocks. What happened to the machine? This hand work is most certainly the handiwork of individuals seeking to just do the job, the good old fashioned way rather than adapt to technology. Is it that the technology should have adopted to our way of working???
Another ingenious method of clearing the drain block is to provide a bypass and one can often see deep pits dug literally into well carpeted roads to provide vent to the surging human excrement. What logic!!!
The second great issue is the management of the manholes. In more cases than one, the cement lid that covers the manhole is found missing or shattered under the burden of traffic on account of misplaced location. Since the authorities are busy with other stuff such as elections, this ground level reality is greeted with a blind eye. Where are the leaders who just a while ago appealed to the people for votes in return for promises?
The average citizen in India is characterized by an above normal capacity to adapt and innovate. Since human safety is of prime importance and the politicians and people in charge are too busy, we found an innovative way to make sure that people notice the hole in the road. Most of these extensively neglected manholes are stuffed with parts of plants and trees as if to signal the awaiting danger. What concern for the environment; we planted trees even in manholes!!! Where there is a hole, there is a tree!!! Eco-enthusiasts would be well pleased.
The general understanding and wishful thinking based on political promises is that funds have been sanctioned for the up-gradation of the drainage systems but nothing seems to be getting done. Approach the honorable “City Corporators” and they are too busy or unaware or unwilling to address this most fundamental issue of the much beneath the muck beneath the invaluable real estate.
Is this the face of our ingenuity or just a symbol of our stupid tolerance is something that we have to decide for ourselves. If we have inherited this patience, then I guess we should not be complaining that things are not working the way they should.
Until better sense prevails, until the polity and bureaucracy learn to live beyond mere promises, let’s just stare at these sad symbols of uncivilized existence and enjoy this
About the Author: The Author is a regular writer for All About Belgaum, Placement and Training Officer at KLE Society Belgaum, Founder of the Social Initiative “Citizens for Society”,Career Counsellor and collects & presents programs on Old Hindi Songs