What is ‘Waste’ anyway?
Few weeks back in my ‘The Paradoxical Modithuva’ I had briefly highlighted how the twin massively driven campaigns ‘Make in India’ and ‘Clean India’ contradict each other conceptually. ON the same line of thought I would like to extend my discussions on waste management, which turns out to be the core issue while talking about ‘cleaning’ the nation.
We’ve seen the video footage of Mr. Modi cleaning the roadside litters himself. This triggered a nationwide drive to clean the nation and the BJP brigades took on to the streets and started to clean the scraps on the Indian roads between posing for the media with a broader smile. Many personalities from various fields responded positive to the Modi’s call for joining hands in the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign. Mr. Kamalhassan the south Indian star took on the call affirmatively and rolled out his plan of action with his fans on his birthday last month. Yet another invited personality Shashi Tharoor, writer and former Minister of the Congress Party of India, had him expelled from the party for accepting the call, who besides had also admired Modi on fewer occasions earlier. Well, this is enough, as my original intention is certainly not on compiling the list of personalities on this campaign.
On all the video clippings aired umpteen numbers of times shows many politicians and officials taking on to the streets and setting an example to the public to keep their surroundings clean, by cleaning the streets. But is cleaning the litters and scraps on the streets the ultimate goal of the campaign for which the government has allocated a sum of 200,000 Crore INR?
On the first place what do these ‘shows’ of cleaning India try to convey? What definition of ‘waste’ do they offer to the common man? If lack of cleanliness is the major challenge in tackling many issues in India and that which directly challenges the healthcare drives from achieving their goals… Shouldn’t it be addressed immediately? The validity of your doubts is unquestionable. But do all the environmental problems stem from garbage piling up on the streets alone? That makes some sense, right?
This massive drive on cleaning the nation carefully omits itself from addressing the most phenomenal issues such as managing the Industrial wastes, nuclear wastes and electronic wastes (more popularly e-waste). Because bringing these up front into the public forums will invite debates on them which would certainly hinder the ‘Make in India’ campaign. That would be a serious setback to the foreign investments in the manufacturing sector, which Modi sarkar is very keen about.
If ever the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign is really for the common man perhaps Modi should’ve started his projects on the polluted lands of Bhopal, which still houses polluted land and underground water, post the Bhopal gas tragedy 30 years ago. India is slowly turning out to be the major dumping ground of electronic wastes. Majority of them are produced from the major cities across India. These dump sites at various parts of India have almost grown like a cottage industry on their own and thousands of workers thrive on them, working in most dangerous and unprotected environments, for their living.
One of the most dangerous forms of wastes is those from the nuclear reactors, commonly addressed as the nuclear waste, hasn’t even been mentioned nowhere in the Clean India campaign. Despite unprecedented human resistance for the Koodankulam Nuclear Project, which still continues till date from 2011, already have two reactors operational at present. The previous government turned a deaf year to its people’s voice and the BJP regime under Modi proves no different. During the recent visit of Vladimir Putin, agreements have been made to install four more plants in the same venue. There has never been a public revelation of a plan of nuclear waste management, from the government till now. Never has any mainstream media reported a government plan on it, at least at the proposal level, yet.
Whenever such a massive drive form a government is rolled out, with a large chunk of public money invested on it, all the valid questions have to be answered.