At the outset, let it be stated, both the terms of this column’s caption, written in italics font, are synonymous as it were, referring to the most talked about as well as the most ubiquitous stuff namely garbage, loaded by citizens on the back of urban local bodies everywhere, including the hapless Mysuru City Corporation. Euphemistically, the stuff is identified as domestic residue, municipal waste, construction debris and so on, wrongly perceived as rubbish and valueless, unaware of the famous equation of the celebrated Physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) connecting matter with energy, one being seemingly inert and the other yielding enormous power. While many urban local bodies across the country, including some in Karnataka, have set up facilities to gather garbage at source, move the mass to a central place, segregate the components into biodegradable and hazardous to convert into manure and fillings, their effort has been far outstripped by the mass of expanding matter day after day. Public debates, as in Mysuru, on managing the waste, or call it by any other name, has turned out to be centred on an enduring subject.
Even as one was under the impression that the countries of the western world had virtually licked the problem of gargantuan garbage menace, dominated by plastic in all its all-too-familiar forms such as shopping bags and a multitude of manufactured goods such as electronic devices like the mobile phones and laptops, disturbing news of an island in Pacific Ocean hosting 35 million plastic products has just been published in the media.
The profile of garbage in days ahead is bound to change dramatically on various counts, most of all the rising rate of its additional mass joining the mountainous backlog lying on the lap of the civic bodies, with no clue on where to move it and how to deal with it, both points more bewildering than dealing with deadly diseases such as cancer. The change in the demonic image of garbage becomes clear on taking into account the debris of falling multi-storeyed buildings, all kinds of automobiles that are heading to be junked by a decision of the government which is about to be implemented. Now the question is: Who are to be vested with the task of managing garbage in future? The answer appears to point the finger towards citizens, the actual generators of the offending stuff.
We are in an era of estimating any matter that yields to be portrayed quantitatively, such as human head count, wealth of the nation (GDP), food crop raised annually and so on. In the days of past, people anticipated in advance and braced for action. Arm Chair estimation and prescribing remedies while enjoying the comfort of office is the name of the game as garbage continues to engulf living spaces.