The gloominess of his smile could easily depict that Ganesh had not moved on after his father’s death which happened about ten years ago. Even though he said that the problem is solved for him yet it was clear that a part of him strongly believes that the problem is rather transferred to somebody else.
Kodungaiyur Garbage dumpyard is called scenic! Not by the white people, like you and me, but by the dark skinned who have spent a major chunk of their lives adoring and living beside it. Those ‘comfortable’ mosquito bites and the ‘wonderful’ aroma of garbage, perhaps which even the most expensive perfumes fail to spread are very much the part of the environment there.
Some of the most uncommon respiratory disorders and the prevalence cancer make the place even more ‘worthwhile’ for the dark skinned. The bhramins no where form a part of the ‘rich’ society here. The schedule castes, dalits and indigenous muslims are the only ones who stay in this ‘elite’ environment.
Clearing the throat,Ganesh told that in 1975 he had spent a major chunk of his earning to buy a piece of land in this once so beautiful fodder farm which was green enough and attracted a large variety of birds usually. Around 1980s, when the city’s garbage started increasing, on the pretext of leveling the ground, the garbage was dumped here. The constant burning of garbage caused a foul smell in the area but with the arrival of a new commissioner the burning was somehow managed
“Burning has stopped now. Things are a lot better.”
He looked towards the floor and it seemed as if he was witnessing something which was even beyond our sight. He took a deep sigh and then rolled back his earlier statement.
“The problem isn’t solved, it’s transferred”, he said.
Their problem was now transferred to the residents of Netaji nagar which is a nearby village. It is a known fact that the Kodungaiyur Garbage dump yard is completely illegal. The area is an institutional area under the corporation’s master plan. The dump yard does not have any of the required permissions. It requires a consent to establish and operate under various acts, which has apparently not been followed. There is no license given to it under Air and Water act. It also does not meet the authorization under municipal solid waste rules. There is no notification regarding the environmental clearance un Environment Imact Assessment, 2006.
The reason that nothing is being done is because if the dump yard is no more a dump yard then what will be the next dump yard? Till we do not figure out another area of dark skinned people who love the aroma of garbage and love moving on the garbage hills in rainy seasons, the closure of this dump yard is not possible!
To give sugar-coated and formal answers on the same is that the dump yard supports people living there. There are around a thousand people who support themselves out of this multi acre economy. But who cares if these people die because of the health hazards the place offers. Even though we speak with a loud mouth that a rag picker can earn around 700-800 bucks every day, do we even realise the cost they go through to earn this much?
Instead they have to pay an informal license fee to support their survival. How much they love their environment!
The area seems to witness lot of fires also. There are there principal reasons for it. Sometimes it is done intentionally by the corporation to reduce the volume of this waste shown on ground and to prolong dumping. Also because of mixed waste there are unintentional fires. Methane pockets which are highly volatile are commonly formed in this area. Thirdly, rag pickers in search of metal burn a lot of garbage.
I’m sure, like Ganesh, there must be many people who are still sad after losing a family member because of the dangerous health hazards the place offers.
There can’t be just one solution to the entire problem. Since everything is so closely knit, if we break one string the other falls. Firstly places like these should not be tried to be made into dump yard without proper approval. Even if this is being done, why does the government officials act so inhumanly that they forget that the residents of those areas are also people. Why are they denied a proper lifestyle? Why are there no hospitals and no proper water facilities?
It is very necessary to understand that our garbage is our liability and if someone agrees to take responsibility of it, we need to respect it.
We can’t open hospitals and can’t provide water tankers to these people. But can’t we stand with them when they are being thrown out of their own homes? Shouldn’t we understand that what they do is sacred and that none of us have the guts to risk the lives of our family and still carry out this dangerous work?
The major incentive behind such activities of the government is that the white section of the society has itself differentiated the dark skinned from them.
Otherwise a solution in one area becomes a problem in the other. Ganesh’s tears would dry only on the day when the problem is finished and not transferred.