After 20 years I returned to Kullu Manali for a short trip. The drive from to the hotel was breathtaking. The beautiful scenery, the clean roads and marvelling at the development work that has happened and is currently on going. Suddenly the breathtaking was stunned by an unbearable stench of garbage. The stench refused to die for almost a kilometre and the culprit is kept away from the eyes by a wall that unfortunately could not control the stench.
A short drive away from the smell I look back and notice a garbage dump that could make the strongest stomachs churn. The unscientifically managed dump will take decades if not centuries to turn to compost as it has plastics mixed into it. As it is an open garbage dump on the side of a hill that is a few hundred metres from the Beas river during the monsoons the rainwater will mix with the garbage and dump leachate into the river that will carry on from the mountains into Punjab on the West and Bihar on the East.
That the garbage problem would affect the ecology of a district of not more that 20,000 people is alarming enough to sit-up and take notice. The area earns hundreds of crores in tourism revenue and that should have been sufficient for the local municipality to create a systematic garbage disposal system. However, since the problem will only be the current persons for a few years before they get transferred someplace else it is often overlooked for more visually appealing development that can be touted in the next election or promotion.
My travel across India has shown that this garbage issue isn’t one off situation and there Garbage-Ghats acrosss the length and breadth of the subcontinent. I have presented on this issue a couple of years back at StartupJalsa where I highlighted the problems of a lack of waste management across the country. My presentation got me a few meetings with a minister who was in attendance but after initial enthusiasm the issue was passed off to a subordinate who then was too busy to give me or my partner in RegenBiosystems any more time since it wasn’t a “burning issue”.
Finally we could no longer push through the red tape and the administration was happy building walls to protect our eyes from the garbage than to clean the mess. However I would prophetically state that if we don’t start cleaning up our mess.. very soon we will buried under an avalanche made of our own garbage.