Golden Garbage Rules: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- Sushmita Bhattacharjee, Assistant Professor, Department of History

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The demotion of Dimapur from 13th(2015) to 277th rank in the nationwide cleanliness survey 2017, conducted by Clean India Mission, may be taken with a pinch of salt; yet, it’s undeniable that our city is besieged by a menace of garbage disposal. Should we just point fingers at the DMC for this mess or admit our share of responsibility here?

Golden Garbage Rules: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Our state is faced with great challenges due to urbanization and population growth but the most compelling one is the garbage problem. On one hand, the towns have progressed a lot in different fields starting from business to industries to the living standard of the people. But on the other hand, it is really disheartening to see the pathetic condition of garbage management in Dimapur which is the major commercial hub of Nagaland and Northeast as well.

As soon as the train starts chugging in, making its way to the platform, we are welcomed by several unpleasant sights of heaps of garbage lying everywhere. Garbage heap is a common sight by the side of the roads, streets, bus stations, hospitals, footpaths and so on.   A permanent stench in the air from the aroma of ripe garbage is everywhere. It is shocking to see how some hawkers even sell food and other stuff amidst the stink! However, the unhygienic state does not end there but extends beyond to the popular commercial and residential areas too. Our roads have become a dumping ground and every nook and corner is filled with the smell of urine. This clearly shows the lack of civic sense and absence of ethical behaviour among us.

Though the municipal corporation is trying to do their work effortlessly from 5 am every day till 8 pm, the public seem least bothered in keeping our environment clean. People start littering their surroundings immediately after the cleaning teams have cleaned the area. Instead of using the dustbins or garbage disposable bins which are provided in every locality, people find joy in dumping their trash in every open space they find. The educated Dimapurians also tend to ignore the boards which read: “No spitting” or “Dumping of garbage is strictly prohibited”, making them look like irresponsible and uncivilized citizens.  It is quite a common sight to find betel nut stains in any public places and empty packets of chips and sweet wrappers which further blow in the wind, clogging up rain gutters just in time for the monsoon.  Thus, the absence of civic consciousness is exasperating in our state.

Heaps of rubbish not only make our towns and cities stink and looks terrible, but it has more serious problems associated with it; it has adverse effect on our sanitation and public health. Food waste is all biodegradable and eco-friendly, but the problem is the plastic garbage which is non-bio-degradable and is the biggest threat to our eco-system. All these choke the sewage lines and often get into the waterways and degrading soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits, giving rise to diseases like malaria, dengue, swine flu, chikungunya, and overflowing waste causes air pollution and respiratory diseases. And, as the summer and monsoon arrive the spread of diseases is only expected to get worse when the major drains in the city can be seen clogged to the garbage, which results in poor drainage and the dirty rain water gets spilt on the road leading to temporary or artificial flood.

Our state receives quite a good number of travellers every year during Hornbill Festival and occasionally throughout the year. Most of the visitors come to our state to know and experience our  rich culture, heritage and history, but instead, they experience a completely different prospect of dirt, stink and unhygienic living conditions. Despite that, we seem to have done nothing to clean up the heavily polluted and dirty areas. Are these awful sights what we want to project to the tourists? I hope not!

So, where does the problem lie? I believe in the very simple truth that garbage problem is an attitude problem and not a management problem, and unless the common man is given a stake in finding a solution, the garbage problem will only continue to grow. Our laid back attitude towards the problem of garbage disposal will lead to greater problems like pollution. We are so tolerant towards every wrong thing.  We are tolerant towards drivers who break the rules, tolerant towards our corrupt leaders, tolerant towards the garbage lying around us and so on. In fact, tolerance has become a part of our culture.  However, by merely pointing out the problems will not help us in any way.  We are getting so used to the problems being pointed out that it is reaching a stage where it would even fail to register. We simply compromise with it and get on with our life. But that is not an option.

It is time that we do something concrete.  Maintaining cleanliness should not be the responsibility of the government alone. Take a leadership role within your company, school or neighbourhood. If you have great ideas share it! Innovation moves us towards a more sustainable world. Would it not be great if all those living in the cocoons come out from their shell? Out of a hundred, if even a few feel the realization that their approach would help, it would be a small step in the right direction. Let us commit to follow the three R’s in our daily lives, i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This practice will benefit us immensely in maintaining our health and environment. Priority should be given to proper drains and garbage disposal.  Let us remember that no problem can be local in an interconnected world. Let no negligence be allowed as it is directly connected to the health of the people of the State.

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

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