After the BJP Government came to power at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed the need of cleanliness in the country. Huge amounts of funds are being used for the cause of environmental cleanliness. Both the Union and Assam governments are spending a lot of money on publicity to make the public aware of the need to keep the environment clean. Some improvements have been noticed in this respect, but this development is not up to the mark yet. The campaign needs more concerted action on the part of the local authorities and the Government of Assam and the public in general.
The present garbage disposal system undertaken by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation is unhygienic as open garbage bins are placed on the roadside (these are not sufficient too). When garbage from households is thrown into the bins, street scavengers, stray dogs and crows rummage through the piles of litter. Some hawkers collect used plastic bags from the bins to recycle them for the manufacture of black carry-bags commonly used by fish and meat vendors. These black polythene bags pose a health hazard.
I had been to the US on five occasions to visit my son who resides near Los Angeles in the California State. During my stay, I observed how the local authorities in that country provide infrastructural facilities for garbage disposal, water supply, power, roads, etc. In every household, there are three covered drums on wheels – black, blue and green. Vegetable and food waste is put inside the black drum. Plastic waste, metal scrap, glass items, paper, etc., are kept in the blue drum. Withered leaves, grass and twigs after gardening/scavenging are disposed of in the green drum. Most house owners engage gardeners or scavengers who come once every week. On a particular week day (Tuesday in the locality where I stayed), all residents keep the three plastic drums on the main street in front of their respective houses. On the following day, large covered vehicles with the same colours as the drums take away the garbage from each of the drums. There is practically no littering.
I came to know that the food and vegetable waste is burnt to generate green energy. Paper, plastics, glass, metals, etc., are recycled for a variety of new items. Similarly, tree leaves, grass, etc., get decomposed on landfills as a renewable energy source. After the garbage is removed, the residents keep all their drums inside their home boundaries.
On Thursdays in the locality where I stayed, no residents are allowed to park their vehicles on the side of the main street as a big vehicle sweeps the road with an automatic machine. The people of that country are law-abiding and nobody throws any trash on to the streets.
Infrastructural facilities in every city of the USA are provided by the local authorities comprising the city mayor and councillors. The mayor enjoys immense power as he looks after the welfare of the residents in his city. Amenities available in the US cannot be compared with those available in Guwahati. Though the local authorities in Guwahati have also made arrangements for collecting garbage from every household, the service is mostly erratic. When the garbage collectors arrive after two or three days, the residents start throwing the garbage into the drains, leading to stench and clogging of drains.
I may cite the example of Barsapara in west Guwahati where a picturesque cricket stadium has come up and a big educational institution is also located. The population of the area will not be less than 10,000. Two drains were constructed in the area in 2005 and 2007, but both have been clogged due to dumping of garbage. During heavy showers, the Lokhra Road is submerged and the local residents suffer a lot.
The appropriate authorities should organise meetings with local NGOs and residents to spread the message of cleanliness. The Guwahati Municipal Corporation should also work on a better system of garbage disposal so that the city remains neat and clean.