Jun 30, 2008

litter india - trash, noise, smoke in the nature...

to continue the tradition of posts drawing criticism, here is one about how india is less and less beautiful, only because of the careless mentality of its citizens.

i found this graphic on graphicreflections.org, and sadly my own experience makes me agree with the post there saying that the majority of indian citizens treat their country as a large wastebasket.

in hyderabad, where i am spending most of my time now, you can collect a ton of litter on any kilometer of roadside. there are almost no public trash bins, i usually carry my small trash items around for half an hour before i finally find one.

the way india actively destroys its natural beauty became painfully obvious to me for example last weekend, on a trip to panchgani. one of the greatest panorama points of the area is kates point, a small, but high plateau, ending in a strange shaped cliff called needle hole point or elephant head point.

the view (even with the gigantic dam in the valley) is spectacular, really amazing from there.

so what is painful about this, you may ask. well, here are two quick 'development areas' for the place:

the small (40x100 meters) plateau, the trees, bushes around it, as well as the upper regions of the cliffs, hillsides under the plateau are all covered with a dense, colorful layer of litter. it is tragic. solution: modest, functional wastebins placed on the plateau for people to throw away their trash to. even better if visitors are asked to bring down their trash to the village. how to enforce? well, cheap labor is something india is not short of at the moment, and i am sure local villagers would be proud and happy to be selected and trained to preserve the natural beauty of their panorama points. /trash with dog picture by patrick colgan/

to reach kates point, people now take the 1 km forest road with their cars from the village, and park all vehicles directly on the plateau. there are at least 3 major problems with this. first, the road is narrow, when cars meet, they practically drive into the bushes to inch by (see pic above by jalaja). there is a lot of smoke and noise pollution (horns, engines), and it all disturbs wildlife. second, the cars parking in total chaos on the hilltop take up virtually all the space, making the plateau a mud-bath. as usual in india, cars rule everything, horning madly, making people run for their lives. the constant noise makes the enjoyment of the view near impossible. third, as the road leading to the top is open to cars, it becomes exclusive to cars. walking on a narrow forest road with cars on it in india is suicide, therefore enjoying a nice walk to the top is not an option. solution: close the road to all vehicles, have a parking area ready for them on the village end. 1000 meters is a pleasant walk, especially if you don't have to fear for your life, don't have to inhale smog, and don't have to go deaf from roaring engines and screaming horns. keeping traffic in the safe distance could make the hilltop a real silent plateau, where grass could regain the area from mud, where some benches could be planted. Such places could be the beginning of a new revolution in india to remove four-wheelers from the absolute epicenter of design, what they took over so violently from humans and everything else in general.

finally, here is a map of the place described, with the village on the left and the hilltop on the right end of the arrow-line. i am open to any comments, opinions on the topic. also, if you have any other suggestions on how such natural places could be saved from us while even enriching the experience we can have there, well, you know, don't hold yourself.

disclaimer: before i start getting comments about me complaining or me building a negative image of india, i would like to state that i am having the time of my life here, just its my nature to analyze and improve where possible. now you can throw the stone at me :)


Ricco said...

Or is environmental protectionism a privilege of the rich?

Knowing next to nothing about India:

Economic progression is tied to consume which is tied to waste. Waste management is tied to taxes and well structured public services (rank the following: education, healthcare, infrastructure, waste management).
Maybe this is the kind of issue that firstly needs local leadership connected to some nice business ideas. How big of an importance does tourism have in India?

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