Thursday, July 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Garbage disposal: the Surat model

GARBAGE disposal appears to have become a chronic headache both for the Chandigarh Administration and the citizens, the reason being that most of the measures adopted by the former have failed to yield the desired dividends. As a result, the garbage bins continue to be overloaded for days at a stretch, and their surroundings littered with refuge. While the Administration holds the citizens responsible for not dumping their refuge properly in those bins, the citizens blame the former for the irregularity in their timely unloading.

Both may be right in their respective places. But the real villain of the piece is elsewhere. It is the rag-pickers, on the one hand and the stray cattle, on the other. Both, in their hurry to devour what appears useful to them, do their job in a most casual manner. In the process, most of the ugly refuge is scattered all around the bins.

Obviously, the spectacle that the spot presents after their operation is highly disgusting. If we are serious about tackling the problem, we must think of the ways and means to strike at its roots.


A couple of years ago, a team of Municipal Corporators from Surat paid a visit to this place. In the course of their interaction with their counterparts they disclosed (as reported by this esteemed daily) that they too faced a parallel problem. To overcome that they constructed small concrete platforms and placed the garbage bins on them and then they fenced them properly so that neither the stray cattle nor the rag-pickers could have an access to them. Since their clearance is done mechanically as we do, they did not face any problem of their unloading.

One fails to understand if Surat, which until a couple of years ago was dubbed as one of the dirtiest cities of the country, can transform itself overnight into one of the cleanest cities (there may be other contributory factors also), why can’t we do so? If we think of adopting that model even now, it is not very late. In case of any doubt about its efficacy, a team of municipal officials can be deputed to study it in depth. But all said and done, this model needs to be given a trial in this City Beautiful.


Issue of human development

This refers to the write-up “Human development is more important” by Ms Tavleen Singh (The Tribune, July 8). It is a matter of serious concern that India occupies the 128th position (four notches up compared to last year) among 174 countries on the human development index as given in Human Development Report-2000 prepared by the United Nations Development Programme.

To my mind, reaching the Everest of human development in India is a utopian idea, but we need to be humble in slow and steady progress in all human resource development (HRD) activities. This calls for recognising them as the infrastructural activities, required to be undertaken as essential services. There should be necessary and sufficient resources — physical, human and financial — for undertaking these activities. This removes regional imbalances.

The expenditure on such activities should no more be treated under the social services sector. It calls for a separate head to be treated as investment. There is need of recognising education as human engineering which calls for redesigning teachers as human engineers.

There is need for preparing a human development index at the state level to know the status of the quality of life of the people in different parts of the country. It is, therefore, desirable to publish a human development report by each and every state so that the balance-sheet of the performance of the respective states can be analysed and evaluated in right perspective.


Burden on public exchequer

This is with regard to a news report on e-governance. It is good that the local administration is going to be high-tech to meet the ever-increasing need of the citizens. But what surprises one is the fact that with Internet and other high-tech communication systems now available, which can provide any information from Andhra to America instantly, a delegation was sent to distantly placed states “to study their models for use of information technology”.

Can the avoidable visit, which must be burdensome on the public exchequer, be justified?


Life in India

As regards “Why is life less stressful in India?” by K. Rajbir Deswal, which is so full of self-righteousness and smugness, a trait which is seen all too common in India these days, I am reminded of a little poem:

In a flower garden,

Once there stood,

A very different seed,

So it criticized all the others,

Pointing out their obvious need.

Until one day it came to know

That it was just a weed.



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