Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Tamilnadu is a garbage collector's paradise. I don't remember the streets being so full of garbage and dirt when I was growing up. Of late wherever I go, I see only plastic bags and garbages strewn around. It is not particular to any one city or town. I have seen garbage mounds in middle of the street in Chennai, Tuticorin, Sivakasi, Coimbatore - almost in every town of Tamilnadu. The roadside tea stalls don't even have a pretense of a dustbin in front of them. People just throw the plastic cups down and all this plastic invariably finds its way to some water body. Most of the rivers in Tamilnadu are being used as open sewerage by the municipalities and the people. If ever you go to Madurai, look at the banks Vaigai that was once a river. You will find it is now a garbage dump.

Is there a solution to this garbage problem? May be some one will figure out a way and there will be money to be made in Solid Waste Management. I don't know. Blaming the corporations and municipalities is a convenient solution - but the real problem is the lack of civic sense in us Tamils. Most of us keep our homes tidy and neat, put the garbage in a black plastic bag - and the maid / help takes it out everyday for us and dumps it in front of the corporation dustbin. Take any dustbin in the city - you will find more garbage outside it than in it. We don't worry about dumping garbage just outside our neigbour's door. Any empty plot of land will become a garbage dump for the neigbourhood.

I have wanted to write this post for a long time. Was struggling for the right words to write about it . And then I read this poem by Devadevan

குமட்டிக் கொண்டு வருகிறது
வீதியை அசுத்தப் படுத்திவிட்டு
அந்தக் குற்றவுணர்வே இல்லாமல்
ஜம்மென்று வீற்றிருக்கும் இவ்வீடுகளின்
சுத்தமும் நேர்த்தியும் அழகும் படோடபமும் காண்கையில்


Sunil said...

Good Post.

But, if I am not asking for too much, if you could transliterate the thamizh lines in english, it would be wonderful; for people like me who speak and understand thamizh but cannot read easily.

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Nandhu said...

u hit the nail on the head. and the lack of civic sense and awareness extends to almost the whole of India. we Tamils are just particularly bad at it. unless we are careful about where we dump our waste, Chennai will never look clean. i myself am careless with the butts of the cigarettes that I smoke

Krishnan said...

Hard hitting piece Chenthil. NIMBY( Not in my backyard) has become Tamilians' credo :-(

By the way can I know the title of the book that carries Devadevan's poem ?

Chenthil said...

Sunil - try harder to read Tamil :-). Will put up a translation soo.

Nandhu - all of us know the problem. We don't know what the solution is.

Krishnan - it is in his complete collection of poems, published by Tamizhini.

Anonymous said...

i don't think the problem is lack of civic sense, it's lack of enough public garbage bins -- and i say this as someone who has traipsed all over madras beach looking for a garbage can. if you make it easy for people to do the right thing, they will. but installing the number of bins needed and having the refuse picked up regularly takes money.

Bala said...

Here in suburban coimbatore, dustbins are discouraged as part of the garbage collection scheme - the conservancy workers are supposed to visit every home and remove the garbage bags (segregated by makkum kuppai and makkadha kuppai). At least that was the theory. In practice, they don't come regularly , people dont want garbage rotting in front of their homes and start throwing it into unused plots of land . Then they refuse to pay the "tip" for the garbage collectors saying that garbage is not collected regularly and the collectors use the non payment of "tip" to even further delay their work. it is a vicious cycle here.

வழிப்போக்கன் said...

Tamilnadu is also full of another kind of garbage. Words. Meaningless words pouring out of the mouths of politicians. Mere verbiage.

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