Endless sweeping against the permanent garbage problem

Colaba, located at the southern tip of the southernmost island of Mumbai, is probably the district most visited by tourists. But that doesn’t mean that anyone thinks it should be kept nice and tidy. Garbage bins are – like almost everywhere else in the city – nonexistent. So people just drop their rubbish whereever they stand and go. Without even hesitating.

Not that there are more dust bins in Delhi. But in Mumbai there seem to be even more people with more rubbish. It piles up at every corner. Plus the encredibly vast number of people that live on the sidewalks, who cook, sleep, defecate and wash themselves there, often surrounded by things they use or have used before.

So far I didn’t complain much about the apparent waste problem and all the threats to the health of the people that live in it. But in Mumbai I got to a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore.

This is on one side due to the fact that, whenever and whereever you go, there is always someone in your field of vision that sweeps the broom. These people move the rubbish from one side to the other, pile it up so that sidewalks get blocked and constantly disperse the toxic dust, inhaled by the bypassers. But even though Mumbai and Delhi have so many men and women out there that never stop sweeping, the citys never seem to become cleaner.

The other thing that makes me angry, is the obvious not-my-business-attitude. A lot of people keep their premises tidy up front, but take no responsibility whatsoever of what happens behind their house and on the street in front of their house. This is also true in Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in Asia with approximately one million inhabitants, where people live very, very close together. In most of the lanes there is hardly enough space to walk and certainly no space for garbage.

When I went into Dharavi for some research, I was astonished at how thouroughly organised all the business is, from garbage to bakerys to leather craft. But obviously no organisation regarding the rubbish. When I asked, a guy replied: “The government needs to take care about that.” But because the government workers often just take the money and let someone else do their job for half the salary, the job often doesn’t get done.

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