Overflowing drains, shortage of policies

With the start of monsoon, a common sight across the capital city, whenever there is a downpour, is clogged drains and sewer water overflowing on roads. Sometimes, wastewater on roads becomes ankle-deep disturbing traffic flow and troubling pedestrians.

Such sight becomes perfect pictures for social media where the thromde office is barraged with angry comments and sometimes insult. However, at a closer look or digging deeper into the drains, the fault is with the people, the residents of the city.

For years, the thromde had been improving the drainage system laying bigger and or digging better drains, but it has not solved the problem. A heavy downpour and most part of the city are flooded with incidents of flooding basements increasing. With the city’s population on the rise, the infrastructure is overwhelmed. This is not helped by our habit of making drains dumpsites for garbage.

Recently, a team of thromde workers trying to clear a storm drain fished out plastics, pet bottles (plenty of it), slippers and even a deflated basketball. The drain is big enough to handle the storm water, but these non-degradable waste dumped into the drains have blocked it.  This is not a rare incident. Thromde workers complain of waste dumped in drains all the time. Then the numerous pipes and cable lines that pass through drains block the flow of water and waste brought along. A thromde official said it is illegal to lay pipelines and cables. But almost all the drains have them.

The need to rid ourselves of non-biodegradable waste is becoming urgent. Plastic has become a threat. It cannot be entirely banned when nearly every consumer good is wrapped in plastic. Alternative to original packaging is rare. It made sense, therefore, that the National Environment Commission initiated a ban on items like the carry bags given by shops and the small bags used for home made sweets, snacks and doma. But the ban is ineffective at its best and not helped a good initiative.

It is not that people are not aware. There were enough public awareness and almost every other week, there is a cleaning campaign organised. The thromde had also provided garbage collection services and cleaners. From the ineffectiveness, the idea of heavy penalty has necessary among the rapidly growing urban population. It will not be an easy task for the thromde, but it has to be done.

Given that most of the non-degradable wastes are poly ethylene terephthalate PET (poly ethylene terephthalate) bottles, those importing or manufacturing bottled water, alcohol and beverages should be roped in to help get rid of PET bottles from towns, villages and our mountainsides. Simple initiatives like buy back bottles, glass or PET, could encourage people to take care or collect them.

Such companies declare profits in the millions, but their indifference to the environment could be costing a lot more. The damage on the environment is difficult to monetise. Investing a small portion of the profit in getting back their waste should be effective. It could be done, for instance, by paying local municipal or thromde offices a substantial fee to help them leave no trails of their products in the form of waste.

PET and glass bottles are recyclable. The money could lead to job creation besides helping the thromde manage drains better.

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