The Chief of
Municipal Council Anantnag, J&K
Subject: As mentioned in the Title
I am writing this letter as an open one with a hint of an essay because the problem at hand is a bit larger, dramatic and inter-generational. Another reason to write it like this is the paucity of time that I always face, given my academic work… Nonetheless, I hope this letter finds you all well, happy and healthy! Cleanliness they say is next to Godliness. Of late the pandemic has taught us a strict lesson demonstrating the same, and yours is the job concerning exactly the same matter.
Setting the context right, I was born in Srinagar towards the end of the 20th century. I have been raised in a nuclear family in a highly disciplined manner. I don’t think that I ever for once was a cause of trouble for my parents. As such, I was introduced to books and magazines and comics at a very early age and it turned out that I was quite receptive towards words and ideas. As a child, I came across a lot of stuff that talked about and dealt with subjects like environment, pollution, global warming and the like. This made me sensitive towards environment. Repetitive reactions with real life examples do have an impact on human heart and mind after all! And thus I have always been cutting on plastic use, garbage and CO2 emitting things highly; at least I always try to! Garbage from my house has always been collected by a person associated with Srinagar Municipal Corporation. People I trust with a proper disposal…
Recently, I have been married. And after marriage I moved to Anantnag, my husband’s district of residence. The place is beautiful. There are fields and brooks and good people above all! My peace, however, has been compromised ever since I fathomed the way people dispose-off their garbage. Right after marriage, I asked Daddy at what time does the garbage collector come! It became a joke. I learnt that there is no garbage collection mechanism in place! Worst lesson of my life…
For the past one year, I collect my garbage in big thrash bags. I keep them stored under the shed in the backyard. Whenever I travel to Srinagar, I stack the back of my car with these bags and I unload it at my parents’ home in Srinagar. I pay my separate fee to the garbage collector and he takes my bags. He laughs at me! I repeat my exercise…
Speaking from my experience; a beautiful brook flows past our home in Anantnag. I wanted to put my feet in it while reading, “Kakfa on the Shore”… As I reached near it my husband called out for me, saying it’s dirty! Steadily I witnessed women throwing garbage in it. I also witnessed the ‘chicken-wala’ disposing off guts and blood in it. Kids finishing packets of chips and hurling wrappers in it… Plastic and agricultural waste too goes in. Little incidents of burning the garbage also came to my notice. Heaps of garbage by roadsides too is no novelty.
As such I am a laughing stock to any simple person in the neighborhood! I am the lucky one by this parameter. The brook flows past my home and there I am doing inter-district to and fro with my garbage… Garbage management system is absent from most parts of the valley. People outside Srinagar and some towns barely understand how big a concern the random acts of getting done with the garbage are. And of course people are not to be blamed for things like this. They haven’t seen a garbage management system in place so they don’t know it exists, be it for good or bad!
Now that consumerism has taken over and people, both in rural and urban areas, have access to global products, the production of garbage has increased immensely and equally. The brooks have turned into flowing bodies of garbage and infection. They have a near potential of turning into open drains. The negative consequences posed by the absence of garbage management system are long lasting and irreversible.
This open letter is my heartfelt request and plea to the municipality authorities of Anantnag, in particular, and Jammu and Kashmir, in general, for putting a proper garbage collection mechanism in place. I am a busy person and environmentally sensitive one too. It pinches my soul when someone throws garbage into water bodies. I can’t stop them, no individual can! As humans we want to get rid of garbage and waste products and that’s what they exactly do. Absence of garbage disposal system is on the district and state authorities and in absenteeism you are fostering the death plan of brooks and rivers and you don’t even know!
I want you to know that this is a big problem and I want people to know that this sure is a big problem that is gonna come back to us in a worse form! Please and please do something good and productive about it. Charge a minimum fee of Rs.20 to Rs.50 per household a month and use the same in case your reason of paucity of funds. Surveys have been taken across the valley and empirical research conducted that this price band is what people are willing to pay for garbage disposal in order to save the environment.
Now is the time to take action and make Kashmir clean! Also, my academic life is very busy… I have a lot of research to do on the firms and business establishments in Jammu and Kashmir. It falls upon you to help citizens like me who favor human development.
So I am highly looking forward to hearing from you and also to seeing progressive actions from your end.
Always ready to inform, help and contribute!
Department of Economics
University of Kashmir