Waste was not a problem in the villages of India until a few years back. People did not use too many things and hence there wasn’t much waste. Whatever little waste was there could be disposed of easily too. For example, the food waste was used in feeding the dogs, cats or the cattle. Now hardly anyone bothers to keep such animals at home and hence the waste becomes a problem. There is not much space left to dispose of the waste either due to the increasing number of houses in small plots of land.
Arikuzha is a small village in Kerala. My boyhood was spent in that village which had a pristine beauty with its rivulet that carried crystal clear water, with its narrow roads flanked by green trees and shrubs, and the undulating landscape that always looked spruced up by Nature itself. Today the rivulet looks like a clotted drainage canal. The trees and shrubs have managed to survive, though the vast variety of earlier days has been robbed by rubber trees. The landscape resonates with the booms from the granite quarries. Arikuzha is not a pristine village anymore; modern civilisation has already left many a scar in its landscape.
But I had never expected to see people dumping waste in plastic or nylon bags. This is not done by the people of the village. The villagers still have healthy waste management systems. Moreover, the villagers won’t destroy the cleanliness of their roads and streets by dumping waste by their sides; they still have a good sense of cleanliness. It is people from the nearby towns who come in the dead of the night by their vehicles and dump the waste by the side of the village roads. The people of this village have removed such waste many times and buried it. But the waste keeps coming in the nights at unpredictable intervals.
Developed nations dump their waste in undeveloped countries. The cities dump their waste in the villages. Is that a law of nature?
While I was travelling by train from Ernakulam to Delhi I read in the Times of India bought from Gwalior that it is the poor who always bear the brunt of progress. [Fancy the Times of India publishing such a report.] When prices rise, the middle and the upper classes always find a way of rising above the prices; but the poor perish, slowly.
Dumping of waste produced by the richer classes in the cities on the less privileged people of the villages is a terrible act of inhumanity. But who cares? A fellow passenger in the train, an army officer, told me that Kerala has become a den of criminals. The crime graph is rising steeply in the state. “I’ll retire after two years,” said the officer, “and I thought of starting a fishery in my village after retirement. But my relatives told me that not only would I have to protect the fish from the thieves but I would also have to sleep in a steel framework. Otherwise the thieves would break my head first before breaking the nets I put around the fishery.” He discussed in detail the kinds of crimes that are rampant in Kerala these days.
I don’t know if the crimes and the wastes (thrown around) are related. I think they are. Because both arise from a certain kind of mental status, a kind of depravity.
The pictures given here are a few of the ones I took from my village. You can see the bags of waste thrown by the sides of the road which otherwise looks quite romantic.