Clean house and cleaner streets

Rohit Vadhwana Thursday 30th June 2022 02:28 EDT

Clean houses in dirty streets. Suppose you have come from a middle or lower middle class family, and your house is in such an area. Now that you have got good income, you renovate it, re-build it, make it quite modern but how do you change the surrounding? Perhaps you would prefer to go to another locality, somewhere cleaner and if possible also greener. This leads to giving up on your social circle. Such decisions are taken with lots of pain in heart, but you have no other option. Sometimes elders don't want to leave the area, then you are stuck in the situation described here - clean house in dirty street. This is a major problem in many parts of India, in most of the developing world. As people get prosperous, they build better houses with modern amenities, but still they have to live in the streets which do not match to thier standards.
Moreover, throwing own garbage in others' premises is still a rampant practice in many parts of the world. If there is an empty plot, no wonder it is bound to become a dumping ground for household waste of the whole locality. A few local bodies have been doing great job in door to door waste collection but still we are not able to eradicate the problem completely. It gets worse in smaller towns and villages where people are left on their own to dispose off the garbage. And most probably they take the easiest path - pack the garbage in a polythene bag, tie a knot, and throw it away. Sometimes neighbours fight over this issue of throwing garbage in each other's premises but as scuffles are temporary while the habits last longer, it keeps happening. Even if you install a CCTV camera, someone will still throw a bag full of garbage near your house.
It is true that people want to keep their area clean, but the main problem is who will take the initiative. Unfortunately one person cannot take the responsibility to clean whole area, as its neither viable nor affordable. Residents feel that because of local governments' failure in doing their job, they have to live in unclean areas. Others feel it is not the obligation on the part of the government only, people have to clean their premises themselves. This chicken and egg situation is exacerbated by those who simply don't want to bother themselves with all these problems while throwing away their wastes anywhere.
Today in India, most of the houses have basic amenities - electricity, water, toilet etc. but how do they cultivate a societal habit of keeping the area clean is a big challenge. Covid and governmental campaigns have helped in developing habits of cleanliness. People are now using dustbin (still government has to write 'throw your waste in dustbin' on a dustbin!) but the problem of waste collection remains a big challenge. Habit of throwing plastics and other waste on the streets or in empty plots are taking time to change. There will be hundreds of videos circulating on whatsapp that plastic bags are killing cows as they try to eat thrown food, yet the number of such bags won't reduce. There are a number of examples of clean societies, villages/municipalities but still they are a few and we need to change the cleanliness orientation of people amass to make them realise that it is not clean house that matters, but cleaner streets are more important.

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