‘DO NOT WASTE THE WASTE’– Key to the success of #SwachhBharat An educative talk @MGCentre Those of us who have visited Europe have always admired one thing – among many things – about European countries. It is the state of cleanliness of their cities, towns, parks and public places. And, invariably, we make comparisons with the appalling situation in India. Just look at this one single fact: Indian cities dump over 90% of garbage into landfills, which are becoming bigger, taller and uglier mountains of disease-spreading filth. Sweden sends only 1% of its garbage into landfills. So what lessons can Mumbai (and other Indian cities) learn from Sweden, Norway and other European countries to reach the goal of ‘ZERO GARBAGE’? This was the topic of a highly informative talk by Smt. Seema Redkar, who has been working as officer on special duty (OSD) with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the past 28 years. She recently spent several weeks in Sweden and Norway studying policies and practices in solid waste management in these countries. She was speaking at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Sanitation, Cleanliness and Community Health, a new initiative of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai in collaboration with Triratna Prerna Mandal. Her talk was richly complemented by another talk on the same subject by Shri R.N. Bhaskar, a senior journalist and educator who has been working with DNA as its consulting editor. He too has visited Sweden, Denmark and other European countries recently. The programme was moderated by my colleague Shri Rishi Aggarwal, a longstanding environmental activist who participated in Aamir Khan’s much-acclaimed ‘Satyameva Jayate’ episode on waste management a few months ago. What stood out clearly in the two presentations were five guiding principles of ZERO GARBAGE, which India must adopt: 1) ‘DO NOT WASTE THE WASTE’. There is nothing like waste. Everything that is regarded as waste can be recylcled and reused. 2) Marry scientific research and technological innovations to the goal of efficient waste management and maximum recycling. 3) Create attractive business and employment opportunities in waste management and environment protection. Government must reset its policies to encourage businesses – and also research -- in this field. 4) Adopt the principle of ‘EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY’. In other words, if a product has the propensity to create waste, its producer has a responsibility, even after it has been sold and consumed, to take care of the waste. 5) People – YES, THE PEOPLE – have the primary responsibility to keep the environment clean. Education for this purpose must start with children. The packed hall witnessed a spirited discussion after the two talks. I was happy to see in the audience so many activists – Smt. Priya Ubale, Smt. Jyoti Mhapsekar, Shri Ashok Datar, Shri Subhash Rane, Shri Anil Rangnani, Shri Nandkumar Salvi, Shri Satish Kolwankar, and several others -- who have been working for many years for the goal of CLEAN MUMBAI with exemplary dedication and commitment. Their common grievance: The municipal corporation and the government are JUST NOT INTERESTED. Also, a genuine hope: The ‘SWACHH BHARAT’ mission launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has created a new opportunity to change the face of Mumbai – and of India as a whole. In my concluding remarks, I thanked the two speakers and stated that the Mahatma Gandhi Centre is DETERMINED to make its maximum contribution to the success of ‘Swachh Bharat’. I emphasized that ‘Swachh Bharat’ will fail in the absence of radical changes in policies and governance at all levels – from national to municipal. I also told the audience that the Mahatma Gandhi Centre has chalked out a major week-long programme next month on the theme ‘SWACHH MUMBAI for SWACHH BHARA’ (November 14-19) to mark World Toilet Day. About this, more in subsequent posts.
Posted on: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 02:25:27 +0000
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