Mining wealth from waste

The nation, after responding splendidly to the clarion call for sweeping the dust as it were and creating a clean country by taking to the humble broom, has lately got immersed in dirty politics for sweeping which there is no broom yet designed. To say that pondering over the issue of cleaning the latter dirt is a waste of time is to say the obvious, even as it is making the floor, read the land, only dirtier. So, let us return to the issues of waste, the term with its conventional synonyms namely dirt, garbage, residue. While the mass of garbage has the spotlight turned on the unwanted stuff currently in a magnitude like never before anywhere in the world, its physical dimension has begun to be expressed as tonnes in astronomical figures, particularly in respect of urban spaces, without making any impression on the residents merrily contributing their mite to the expanding mass. Dailies have carried on occasions in the past figures of 450 tonnes of waste generated daily in Mysuru which has made no difference to the city’s garbage scene. The civic body of the city has fought only a losing battle on garbage, thanks to most of its residents not giving up their old habit of littering.

Connecting between the steady rise in the diverse wastes, simplified as dry and wet, hazardous and harmless biodegradable and non-biodegradable, with the fast-changing lifestyle of people in the cross-section of society, particularly the nouveau riche of present times, is not difficult to notice. Discarded electronic devices, unserviceable automobiles, debris of demolished buildings and so on, not to forget the ubiquitous plastic after use, figuring in the garbage mass are new entrants to the problem created by ourselves.

There seems to be only two options available at present to score a win in the battle against garbage, already past gargantuan proportions everywhere. One option is to keep the mass in check by drastically reducing consumerism. The second option is to invent technology of zero waste as it were, which sounds utopian. The now-slowed-down-action in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan may or may not pick up the required pace and fervour in days ahead, but there is no option of giving up the mission, except to explore ways and means of exhorting the land’s people at large to take active part in the effort 24×7. They have more toilets now than before, being spared the embarrassment of open defecation, but the question of accessing water in matching quantity still looms large.

A report originating from Jharkhand State’s Latehar district spelling out the enlarged economic returns from the Swachh Bharat Mission, namely significant reduction in incidents of diarrhoea, malaria, school drop-outs as well as improved attendance in schools, is an eye-opener to the rest of the country. However, the merit of the aforementioned option cannot be exaggerated.

 

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