In our country, we hear about many issues related to religion. India, being a country with a plethora of cultures and religions, has witnessed many clashes of communities since time immemorial.
I came across a recent issue in a remote village of our country which made me think deeply about this aspect of our history and society. Here, I narrate my experiences and invite your comments and suggestions on the same.
It’s a story of very small tehsil (sub-district)called Kotda. Kotda is a tehsil of Udaipur district in the state of Rajasthan, a backward place, not only in Rajasthan but in the entire country.
This place is also known as Kalapani (black water) and government officials come here only on a ‘punishment’ posting.
I stayed in a rented room in the midst of the market. Whenever somebody passes by, it is sure to be noticed that they cover their nose with a handkerchief as the place is all about lumps of garbage.
These waste materials have accumulated over the past five or six years and nobody has, as yet, cared to effectively dispose of them, for the sake of environmental hygiene.
The Panchayat officials are also neglecting this issue. The origins of the garbage are the households and the market.
You wouldn’t be surprised to know that every night, people throw their garbage this way.
I am also compelled to throw my household waste from the terrace into my neighbour’s house because there’s no other option. Though this is a matter of serious concern, people are pretending to be blind to it.
The use of polythene bags is quite enormous in the market. When I thought of doing something about it, like creating awareness among the people around the poisonous effects of plastic on our environment, I learned of some interesting local perspectives from NGO and local people.
I got to know that this place is shared by two communities – pure Brahmins and Muslims.
Through an interview with the local shop keeper at the market, we come to know that the Muslim people generally depend on the business of selling meat and poultry, which the Hindu Brahmins utterly dislike.
Both communities depend on each other for cleaning of the streets.
However, the Muslim people dump poultry waste in the village and the Brahmin people don’t even want to touch it. And hence, this beautiful place has become a hub of garbage.
There is only one dustbin for the whole market and which has been overflowing since last year and no one even bothers to clean it.
So, people likely to go the river to throw the waste. And the river (Sabarmati), which is the lifeline for the Adivasi people as they dependent on it for agriculture, as well as, drinking water is dying.
From another interview with a local shopkeeper, we learned that though shopkeepers are well aware of the consequences of using plastic carry bags, they cannot avoid it as it will affect their business.
It is possible to completely remove plastic carry bags from the market if all the shopkeepers work together.
As the market is in the border region of Rajasthan and Gujarat, all the plastic carry bags usually come from Gujarat as it is banned in Rajasthan.
And Panchayat Samiti of the village is least concerned with this issue. According to them, there is no specific allocated government funding for the waste management of the village area.
They claim that as Kotda is quite large in terms of population and also a business hub, it should be converted into a municipality or town Panchayat.
As this is a sensitive issue involving two communities, it is quite challenging for me to plan out an effective strategy.
Apart from the issue of religion, one more factor hinders any action i.e. alcoholism. The opinions of the villagers change after they get drunk.
For instance, if someone supports my idea for cleaning the garbage and using less plastic bags, the same person will be against this idea after he gets high. It is a huge problem for me!
It is said, “Be the change you want to see”. So, I have started boycotting the use of polythene carry bags.
Whenever I buy something from the market, I either bring it home by merely holding it in my hands or putting it inside my sling bag.
People have started noticing me because I am the only person in the entire village who avoids plastic bags. I hope they start changing too…