In recent times, much has been written about the garbage problem in Goa. This crisis is real. The write-ups are the result of Goa being a tourist destination. It is vital that we be responsible to present the best image of our State, to our visitors. We must make ourselves aware of the fact that the sight and smell of garbage, and the polluted rivulets defiling our surroundings, give a wrong impression of our State and thus of ourselves to visitors –especially foreigners. Cleanliness is next to godliness.” However, we are not at home with this virtue; and this speaks volumes of the plight we face, while at the same time we are disgusted with our state of affairs. Who is responsible for this gigantic problem?
We cannot and should not stand on the wrong side of the street with an excuse saying, “This is how we live,” or “This is part of our culture.” Nevertheless, this behavior is very evident, even when our citizens migrate to western countries, which is deplorable, and shameful. The westerners distance themselves from the Asian contingent, mainly because we cannot live up to their civic standards. However, our history speaks otherwise.
The ancient Indian civilization, Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, placed a high priority on hygiene. Could it be that, with the destruction of those civilizations, the value of cleanliness, and sanitation was lost in time? The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage, that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region, were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in India and Pakistan.
Compounding the situation is the real estate, which is the real killer. In former times, the villagers did not have this garbage problem, because each household took care of their own garbage by burning it to ashes. The gated communities do not have that ethos. Thinking it to be below their dignity, they prefer to fling it outside the wall, for locals to bear the burden. Those living in the gated communities don’t mind standing on the wrong side, for they are well protected. However, such an attitude reminds us of the ugly face of the caste system, which is a bane on the Indian nation. Besides, it is a shame for the government to issue licenses to mega-housing projects in the name of development, without first putting in place the infrastructure to address the garbage, sewage, road, and other basic amenities. The mega-housing projects continue to mushroom everywhere, despite the calamity, which has befallen our society.
What is the remedy for this complexity and predicament we live in? First and foremost, we have to inculcate national pride in each other to give a little more of ourselves to build our nation. Otherwise, any remedy is going to be just noise.
Secondly, the government should stop issuing licenses to mega-housing projects, since it is destroying our culture, exhausting our resources, and decimating the environment. Besides, what kind of development is that? The previous PWD minister had the audacity to declare that mega-projects will bring jobs for Goans to be security guards. What a vision! Thirdly, once a month, every school should be assigned to keep the streets and neighborhoods clean in their vicinity. Such an undertaking will instill the value of cleanliness and national pride in our children at a young age. It will make them feel important for positively contributing to the community; for, it is together that we build the nation!
It is a high time the government put in place on priority basis the garbage disposal plants, and sewerage system connecting the whole of Goa. In right earnest, the newly inducted government wishes to overcome this predicament in due time. Keeping our streets clean will also eradicate many unwarranted diseases. Why stand on the wrong side? As a Chinese proverb states, “Keep the street in front of your house clean, and the whole street will be clean by itself.”