This is a tough topic for me to approach because somehow it makes me feel guilty for bringing it up, but I have decided to jump in and tackle it anyway.
Here goes: Chennai and the surrounding cities that I have visited are really dirty.
Dirty can mean a lot of things, what I am referring to is abundant trash on the ground. I think this picture says it all. The very sign asking citizens to take pride in their town and keep it clean is surrounded by trash. Not a stray water bottle or soda can, not that even those are ok, but a significant amount of trash.
Sadly, the complete disregard for proper trash disposal extends beyond the city streets even causing the closure of our nearest national park.
As an enthusiastic patron of US National Parks, I was very excited when Chris told me that we had an Indian National Park just kilometers from our house. I imagined heading over each morning for a run in the park with Chris and maybe some hikes or picnic lunches on weekends.
Reality hit hard when our relocation coordinator told us that the park was closed to all guests. Figuring that she couldn’t be serious, I went and checked for myself. She was right. The reason? People were destroying the environment of the park by littering.
I wasn’t around back in the ’70’s during the big environmental movement in the US, but I have to imagine that the trash problem that sparked it did not even compare with what I commonly see on the streets of India today. The sign above tells me that some citizens are concerned, but I seriously question whether there is enough backing for this initiative to have success. My impression of the national psyche here is that it is ok to litter and without a general stigma against throwing trash on the ground, I doubt that there will be enough momentum behind these green campaigns for them to take root.
I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I suppose I am just expressing that the garbage on the side of the road made me really sad and frustrated as I played tourist today. Hopefully young leaders in India today will choose to incite some change and enable a cleaner India tomorrow.