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Monday, June 14, 2010

Dirty .......Dirtier........ Dirtiest ?

Benares, Varanasi, Haridwar are considered to be highly polluted places with the fecal chloroform content almost 100 times the permissible limits. Many westerners who visit these places often remark with characteristic wonder, towards all things in the mystic land of India “Indians come to one of the dirtiest places in the world to cleanse themselves of their sins”.

Ganga Action Plan (GAP) one of the famed government proposals, after hundreds have been pumped in and more than 2 decades, Ganga is no cleaner then the neighborhood gutter. Now it seems the IITs have been roped in to find some solution.

But I cannot fail to remember the other grand venture of IIT, in Delhi the BRTS which was supposed to make cars obsolete. All which was made obsolete was the residual sanity that Delhi bus drivers possessed. Seeing a vast stretch of empty road reserved exclusively for their use ignites the formula one driver inherent in every male. For a rare time they had the pleasure of zipping in at fast speed much to the dismay of the AC car with humongous horsepower under its hood but forced to crawl at a bullock carts pace.

This time around we have Japanese helping us to understand the mechanics of cleaning, as a part of the GAP. Let me ask here we would clean something because it gets dirty, correct so instead of spending time cleaning wouldn’t it be wise to spending time not dirtying?

So logically it would augur well to find the source of pollution. The various pollutants are human and industrial. Put a tab on these two I believe there might be a sizable dip in pollution. Acting on one plan that is just cleaning in isolation would not augur well as it is essentially addressing a part of the problem.

Enter, Sulabh International with its low cost clean toilet schemes. This is winning accolades all over the world. It might be a wise idea to implement GAP along with a plan to develop Sulabh toilets at vast stretches of river passing trough rural populace.

Cost, where to find the money the government asks? Simple make Sulabh model a community venture, appoint a community leader to overlook on the functioning of the facilities which would essentially be pay per use.

Why the heck would someone pay for doing something which has historically been done for free? , would be the second question. I don’t have an answer to that. For a rural Indian, his traditional lota and two trips to the jungle are a well established venture. Breaking a habit and forming a costly one in its place is a challenge. But I do say that , if the same guy can forgo his coin operated telephone booth for a cell phone at an additional cost why not pay nominal amount for a clean place to do the honors instead of the jungles ?