mid-day editorial: Get to the bottom of the garbage problem

The recent fire at the Deonar dumping ground, and the resulting blanket of smoke enveloping the city, claimed a 13-year-old victim over the weekend. Shifa Mohammed Isak, a resident of Umar Khadi, lost her life after the smoke aggravated the TB she had been battling for six months.

It is time to get serious about how we dispose our waste and discuss the consequences of haphazard disposal. Of late, we have seen civic authorities place bins marked wet and dry waste. While the intent may be laudable, most of the public simply does not know the difference between dry and wet waste. Even if they wish to segregate the items, they do not know which bin to use. It would be better if civic authorities specify which bin should be used for what, with a graphic or pictorial on each.

Most flat owners in buildings too, do not dispose their waste correctly. Even though societies were told they would be fined if waste is not segregated, this has not been implemented. Here, too, the problem of not enough awareness persists. Homeowners too may not know how exactly to segregate their garbage. We need a number of public service initiatives and films that can be screened before movies, or we can put up hoardings to up the awareness about the difference between waste that can be recycled and cannot, and how to segregate the two.

Children need to be taught this at school-level itself, and it should be made part of their DNA. Lessons learned in childhood are absorbed faster and stay with them through life. One has to realise that fires at dump yards are because of a faulty system, the genesis of which lies in improper waste disposal beginning at home and on our roads.

Often, we also see BMC garbage truck workers mixing wet and dry waste, even after collecting it separately. This practice must be fined and punished. We need change and education from the grassroots, to prevent repeats and make systematic waste disposal an intrinsic part of our everyday life.

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