Meghalaya is now turning into a state immune to fall of laurels- first from electricity energy surplus state to energy power deficit, from Educational Hub to educational scam, world highest rainfall state to water scarcity, than from natural environment to unplanned development of concert jungle, the list goes on. The core of the problem lies in the rapid growth of population, which also means the state is progressive, however, due to unplanned- development of infrastructure, to meet the demand of the basic necessities, the cities are now being chocked by garbage, which have attracted the attention of National Green Tribunal and the Meghalaya High Court as well; demanding restoration of Clean and Green State.
In the process of cleaning up the state and participating in the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, the first action of the Urban Development authority was to simply removed all the open dustbins, which were spilling out all the domestic waste into the streets, and substitute it with house to house collection of garbage by employing Unemployed youths from the locality. In all of this a basic and a significant point was missed out of not understanding that few orientation too is required; as how to segregate recyclable and non-degradable waste, at the same time how to keep the city clean and most importantly Hygienic.
Yet other schemes for urban development- two phase of installation of coloured plastic bin were carried out in various lane and bye-lane, but without specific instruction as who is supposed to empty the waste accumulated, hence, about 80 percent of such waste bin was set on fire by unscrupulous public!
The city suddenly saw the mushrooming of public toilets, without proper water supply and septic tanks it is so evident that the department concerned wanted to utilize the funds provided thereby constructing the toilets but without proper facilities, except four walls and the roof. Here too, none of the citizens ever raised questions as to how such unserviceable toilets were constructed without the necessary provisions.
Lady Hydari Park is making an attempt to implement a plastic free zone. Like other tourist spots outside Meghalaya, the checking is done and the eatables packed in plastic are removed. However, once inside the park there are no provisions to help tourists with their food. On the other hand, inside the park one can find any kind of discarded materials all over.
As of now Meghalaya is in no better situation when other states are talking about toxic waste and better Air quality, be it the pollution of Wahumkharah and Umshyrpi Rivers or the stones and sand quarries in Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, Ri Bhoi or Garo Hills. Dumping grounds in Jaintia Hills, Khasi Hills and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on rat hole coal mining is yet to get the attention of the district administrations for immediate attention.
The next issue of concern is earth cutting after the massive landslide that blocked the Highway and claimed a life, forcing the Ri Bhoi district administration to issue a blanket ban on earth cutting. Where was the same authority when the cutting of hills was taking place for the four laneing of the Highway? Such unscientific soil cutting was pointed out by various quarters including the media, yet the district administration refused to act. The Agency engaged for this earth cutting should be booked for the loss of an innocent life.
All such are just the tip of the ice berg about the poor execution of civic services when it comes to waste management in Meghalaya, recently, an incident which went viral in social network about the unlawful and unscientific dumped garbage along the FCI road, where RJ Gordon of Mirchi 91.1 was shocked to see the picture of scattered garbage was a online delivery packaging with his name on it with the address of the Laitumkhrah workplace. Which he said he had disposed that particular package at the office a week before emptying its contents- a pair of slippers, which he suspects most certainly had fell off the truck while it passed by that road.
Yet another similar incident where a young mother was slap with a summon slip as why she should not pay the compensation of Rs 20,000 as a dumped filled with birthday gifts wrapping paper along with an old progress report card of her daughter which have traced the authority to her address, although after negotiation she paid Rs 5000, at the same time it was established that it was dumped by the waste collector, as most of them, including the staff of the Municipality Board usually empted their collection at deserted lane or down the hill sides toward the dumping ground.
It may also be reminded that since the inception of the Shillong Municipal Board, the collection of garbage was done during pre-dawn hours such that, every individual can get up and begin their respective day’s activities in a fresh atmosphere in the city limits.
The relaxation and delay in garbage collection till long after day break was allowed only during the days when there was a serious law and order breakdown in the city in the year 1991. However, the practice stuck and since then, the timing of garbage collection is yet to be reverted back to the pre-dawn hours as is practiced in cities elsewhere in the country.
Such is the situation of Meghalaya, where unorganized executions of such civic services, and the authorities concerned are corrupting the duties by recklessly becoming the agent of littering the cities instead of keeping it clean. It seems like the duties of keeping our city clean is only left to one single person - Nicholas Jonathan Kharnami for his movement called #Shillong My Pride. It is time every individual should join his #Swachh Shillong Marathon to restore one of the laurels of Meghalaya.