Lots of articles have been posted and shared on the social media about how the citizens of Chennai rose to the occasion and helped each other in moments of crisis during the recent floods. Television channels did highlight volunteerism, showed and interviewed some of the heroes as well. In fact a few have been honoured and rewarded too already.
But my questions to fellow Chennaites is, have we learnt our lessons or are we never going to learn?
The amount of garbage that needs to be removed is estimated to be around a lakh tonnes….massive by any standards. Requires more volunteers, civic staff and others to clear this garbage. Most of this garbage is something that we have thrown out on to our public spaces. Even as this garbage gets cleared, I already notice that people have gone back to their good old ways. Throwing garbage in public places that include rotten items, half eaten food, polythene bags with or without material and many more. These are thrown not just on to the roads and footpaths but also into water channels that ultimately get clogged, blocking smooth and efficient flow of sewage and water. As long as it is not my personal space, I don’t mind throwing anything anywhere is the attitude of most people and we have already paid a huge price because of this attitude.
While there are several lessons to be learnt from the recent tragedy, one simplest lesson to be learnt and followed immediately by all of us is the way we dispose off what we don’t need, and what is waste. There are several agencies working in the area of garbage and waste disposal that offer valuable advice. There are also several websites that offer useful tips to manage waste and dispose garbage effectively. While plastic as a material is useful in several ways, it is also one of the worst contributors to damaging our environment. While travelling in Himachal Pradesh this April and May we were happy to notice that use of plastic bags are banned and people of the state including the traders are actively involved in ensuring that use of plastic bags are minimised if not eliminated completely.
Why don’t we ban the use of plastic bags completely and start using other environment friendly items such as cloth bags? For example bags made of jute, cotton, paper etc that are biodegradable.
While we can, and should demand accountability and responsibility from the government and other agencies, should we also not show our responsibility to our community and society? How do we expect the Swach Bharath program to be successful if we don’t play an active role around ourselves?
We still have an opportunity to take corrective steps and actions, and make a turnaround to make this world a better place to live or…be doomed. Please remember that every change in the world happens with a change from within…