Thanks to Delhi Belly ‘Shit’ is a Hit. And since human excreta is the flavor of the season ….oops, I mean the current topic let me declare that this post is all about yucky muck. Continue reading at your own peril, only if you are willing to face the stinking reality.
Wonderful. The water and sanitation minister Mr. Gurudas Kamat has resigned even before assuming office. Who needs drinking water and sanitation ministry? It’s like being the nation’s top sweeper. How degrading! Since we already have wonderful standards of hygiene, the focus for most is on meaty ministries like the civil aviation or the Railways. And they then slowly proceed to milk them and kill them the way a former aviation minister smothered Air India.
Last week while I was waiting for a friend at the New Delhi Railway station, a whiff of stench shook me in more ways than one. The stench wafting from the excreta on the tracks was a distressing enough. In a matter of seconds I went from exasperated to nauseated!
Indian Railways, which proudly associated itself with the CWG as the largest sponsor, showers human excreta across the length and the breadth of the nation in dollops. The efforts to create bio-toilets are yet to see light. Forget clean water, fresh food or a clean blanket, fecal aroma is guaranteed! Yes, the problem is compounded due to sheer volume of passengers. We couldn’t do anything in five decades. As a result the juggernaut continues to spray muck on the tracks.
Railway ministry is a wonderful tool to cultivate and nurture constituencies. Hygiene and safety can take a long holiday. Another great opportunity is a railway accident, like the recent Howrah Kalka Mail. Like vultures to bodies, sensitive political souls, all feasted and burped at the victim’s plight, some at the accident site while others at a Kanpur hospital. The vultures knew that the state was going to the polls soon. Shameless creatures! Vultures I mean.
A curious case of misplaced priorities is visible all around. I live in a place touted to be the Singapore of India – Gurgaon. Only, I was not aware that Singapore had long power cuts, cratered roads, piles of garbage and no sewage system in place. After the malls and skyscrapers have mushroomed, the city is grappling with waste disposal. Complexes with exotic names like Malibu Town are pumping sewage in their own rainwater harvesting plant constructed by the residents. Swirling sewage alongside roads is an open stinking reality. Let’s have Pod taxis on the lines of Heathrow; who needs sewage disposal?
Reading an article in the newspaper I was aghast to read that in Delhi, the national capital, forty percent of sewage flows untreated into the Yamuna. Along with it goes toxic medical waste. What are we drinking? Exactly what Morarji Desai prescribed for a long life, so why bother?
A documentary called ‘Fecal Attraction’ based on death of Yamuna had its producers asking random people two simple questions, “Where do you get the water from and where does your shit go?”
“I guess the water comes from the Yamuna. And the shit goes there only.”
“Hain shit? It goes somewhere automatically man…”
India generates 38, ooo million liters of sewage every day. And guess where it goes, untreated?.
When you say ‘it goes somewhere automatically man’, remember it goes to the water we drink and the carrots we nibble. Pardon me for taking the crunch away from your carrots.
The paradox of our times is that we do bigger things, but not better things. Hell, lay those sewer lines and build those waste disposal plants before expanding the infrastructure any further. Before building skyscrapers, elevated corridors for Pod taxis and before visiting Mars….
And don’t degrade the water and sanitation ministry Mr Kamath, the nation needs it more than any other.
If you thought drinking water was below your dignity, I am glad you resigned even before taking charge.