The other day, waste dumping at the Margao bus stand in South Goa raised Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s hackles. The CM was scouting for land to host the Viksit Bharat rally, which will be graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on February 6.
I am certain this is not the first waste dumping site or a black spot, to describe it more appropriately, the Chief Minister has come across in Goa; there are several more. I am also sure that from the confines of his official car, he has seen garbage-infested roads and is making every attempt to address the problem.
However, the panchayats owing allegiance to his government are not doing much to keep in tune with the Centre’s Swachh (clean) Bharat initiative. Garbage management doesn’t appear to be a priority for many panchayats across Goa or else how does one explain the overwhelming garbage crisis in our once pristine villages?
Every street corner stinks of rotting garbage, which has become a new normal. Like mega cities, we too in Goa are adapting to living alongside garbage mounds because our priorities have shifted to other pressing things.
Our daily lives are so full of chores that waste is best left to the authorities to handle because we are tax-paying citizens. Certainly, the authorities have that responsibility, but we as citizens should also find ways and means to dispose of garbage. Throwing it on the roadside and then blaming the government doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility.
The very pressing issue before us today is of plastics generated in every town and village. Microplastics that do not get assimilated into nature have overwhelmed us and we will reach a stage of no return if the authorities don’t find a solution to this problem.
The scourge of plastic has not restricted itself to the streets and corners of Goa, but the problem is festering inside our forests where unsuspecting animals are affected. Our throwaway culture is doing more harm than we assume and it is also the driver of climate change, but some may not agree.
Many believe that recycling is the answer to the plastic menace, but this view is more myopic in the current time. Recycling means we are open to more unwanted products adding to the existing goods. The recycling industry in itself has turned into a parallel economy producing goods other than the recycled ones.
If Goa is serious about getting rid of its waste mounds and cleaning its house, then there is a lot of work to do. Also, people who have made plastic their way of life have to wake up to the fact that we have strayed and it’s time to course correct.
A greater sense of awareness will be required from the consumers to shun what is not good for the planet. The moment this happens, then manufacturers of wasteful goods will be forced to stop production. Once there is no demand, the supply chain will collapse.
What I am suggesting or expecting is a wishful thing, but for any change to happen, it has to start somewhere and in a small way. If our faith calls us to be pious and holy, then throwing things on the streets goes against the tenets of that faith.
Recently, people saw mop-wielding politicians cleaning temples in preparation for the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The cleaning of the temples did send the right message, but the messengers were not the right ones.
If our faith calls us to clean religious places just to mark an occasion, then the same faith calls upon us to treat our surroundings too with equal respect. If cleanliness is next to godliness, it does not apply only to religious places.
It is good that the Chief Minister himself got to see the mess at the Margao bus stand, and he rightfully directed the authorities to clean the place. Keeping Goa clean is not the CM’s duty alone, each and every citizen too has a part to play.
Let us all admit our house is dirty and that a dirty house breeds filthy air. Let us, therefore, pledge to clean our house (read Goa) one street at a time.