The need to deal with the littering and dumping of waste materials

Khelsoril Wanbe
In recent days, we have seen the extent of havoc that has been wreaked by non-degradable waste materials such as plastic bags, bottles, wraps, etc. It has become a common habit to just throw away used plastic materials and litter all over the place. So long as such materials are in production and use, the littering and dirtying of the landscape will continue. There’s, of course, no denying that plastic materials are very convenient to use as everything can be put or contained in them—both liquid and non-liquid substances. In earlier days, papers and paper containers were used for wrapping and putting grainy substances.
It is quite disturbing to see all kinds of waste materials littering and decorating our roads, drains, rivers and places despite much efforts and cleanliness campaigns. Perceivably some strict rules against use of plastic materials such as bottles, bags, etc., are being contemplated and in the offing, yet, it still remains difficult to say if they will come into practice in the near future. We often hear of how in places like Singapore throwing of even a piece of paper is strictly prohibited and any violation of the cleanliness rules are punished with handsome fines. At some places in Manipur too, we often see some cleanliness-conscious people with good civic sense occasionally cleaning our heavily littered tourist and other places. They dedicate their precious time to make our roads and places clean, but without any kind of cooperation from people of all walks of life, the campaigns cannot be successful. If all the people, young and old, do not think of doing their bit by not throwing waste materials, no matter how small, in public places, it will continue to be difficult for the cleanliness-conscious people to try to keep our beautiful places clean and free from waste materials, both bio-degradable and non-degradable.
What we still continue to often witness, whenever a festival or huge public gatherings are held, is the littering of the venues with heavy dose of waste materials ranging from candy wraps, polythene bags of all hues, glass and plastic bottles of all sizes, etc. Despite the installation of beautiful trash bins and cans, we often see the little little things being strewn all over the places, and the frustrated heartbroken people almost shedding tears as their cleanliness efforts come to nought. Despite a lot of shouting and striving to keep our public places such as roads and grounds clean and free from disturbing bits and masses of plastic, glass and other waste materials, we continue to see them thriving almost everywhere—right in front of our gates, roads, houses, etc.; all efforts seem futile and you are left as though you haven’t done anything on your part. There are, of course, many other important things to deal with than this seemingly tiny issue; we have the problems of drugs, corruption, conflicts, disagreements etc., yet, this little problem too, if not given proper attention in the right time, often becomes a big one, when the heavy amount of long accumulated waste materials begin to wreak havoc in our nullahs, roads and rivers.
Punishments in the forms of fines and others might also help a bit, but the most important thing is the dawning of realisation in the minds of one and all about the importance of this little habit of not simply throwing away the cover or wrap or container of anything that you have just used at the wrong place and not taking the trouble of carrying it for some time to dispose it to its proper place.
Of course, we might think in our mind this is nothing compared to other bad things we indulge in, but who knows this could be one of our baddest habits.
There are, of course, many other things that we need to observe to avoid causing pollutions of different sorts against public health and interests. We have to identify all those and try to observe some rules and restrictions to avoid being a public nuisance as far as possible although, of course, being a human being, all of us have our own defects and shortcomings. As I have mentioned above, the most important things are not fines and punishments but self-realisation and awareness and the making of the decision to do anything in the interest of fellow human beings as far as we can. Besides this pollution of the environment with waste materials, we have other pollutions like noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, etc. In this regard, our experts, planners and law enforcers need to think up ways and measures to bring about positive changes through vigorous public awareness campaigns, not necessarily through harsh physical harassments alone.
Dealing with the hearts and minds of the people and public definitely is a very delicate thing. As can be well observed, it isn’t easy to convince people to do or adopt something good or new. It takes time and efforts to make people change their minds and habits. We human beings by nature are defiant to authorities and tend to violate rules and laws and often punishments and penalties seem necessary, but what are more effective in the long run are proper consciousness, awareness and realisation on the part of the people.
In extreme kinds of crime involving the causing of serious or severe harms of different kinds, punishments and penalties do become necessary. Such simple acts as littering, causing of disturbing noise pollution, water pollution, air pollution, etc., seem less severe crimes, but in the long run, they too can cause a lot of harms to the wellbeing of the people in general.