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How to clean up South Asia

| by A.R.Arudpragasam

( October 4, 2014, Geneva, Sri Lanka Guardian) A clean up and a face lift is needed not only in India but in all nations of South Asia.

It is one thing to develop but another to look like a developed country. The primitive social responsibility awareness is s a major cause of the problem

The situation is so bad in places in Tamil Nadu, one is inclined to dub it Cheri Nadu meaning slum country.

The war ravaged areas of North East of Sri Lanka face its own problems.

The responsibility of keeping the environment clean is a power given to the local authority.

The look of Indian subcontinent is that of an unshaven man. This contrasts very much with North America, Europe and countries like Singapore and Far East which are more like clean shaven man.

Effective way of overcoming this is to adhere to strict planning regulation of new building where landscape and aesthetical considerations should reign supreme.

But for already existing landscape a legal remedy has to be found that can be enforced.

Identifying the lacuna

My study of the problem found there is lacuna that should be addressed and ended throughout South Asia. There is a no man’s land or a space with confused ownership and responsibility. This is the space between the face of the building and edge of the road. As road reservation is not fenced in most cases there is no clear demarcation between reservation for the road and the private property.

This leads to the lacuna which leads to irresponsible behaviour of the owners of the borderline private property and leads to their exploitation for short term profit by outsiders and provides the opportunity for environmental violation giving the unshaven look to the Indian subcontinent.

The legal remedy

To overcome this problem law should be brought to bring an end to the no man’s land. The land area that exists between the edge of the road and front of the private property which may be a fence or front of the building or a shop, to the common ownership of the privates owner and public owner of the state reservation for the road.

The responsibility of keeping this in-between land clean and environment friendly and pleasant adorned with gardens wherever possible, should be given to the private property owner whose front area is the said space. He should also have the responsibility for maintaining the space hazards free, hygienic and people friendly without any opportunity for mosquito to breed. Local authority should have the power to supervise and fine violators.

Who will not want to keep the front of his house clean? No one is doing it now because the power of keeping it clean rests solely with the local government who do not have the resources to maintain them in good condition or the will to punish the violators. This is a people centred approach to solving environmental problems.

Apart from appointing local government environmental inspectors who will administer the implementation and fining programme, the scheme can be further enhanced by involving high school students. As part of their environmental education they should be given a opportunity to manage a road and write report as part of the exams.

They can supervise each road and provide advice to the owners of the face land and make recommendations on improvements and violations to the local authority which would prevent corruption creeping into the scheme. It can also be useful in maintaining the cultural identity of the roads. The fine should be able to pay for the scheme.

Addressing the other issues of environment

A broom stick clean up would not clean up the environment. There are other issues like noise,. smoke and public hygiene that should also be taken care of. The strict implementation of anti-horning laws could go long way in reducing noise pollution of roads of Indian sub-continent and banning vehicles that generate smoke would end air pollution. Millions of vehicles ply the roads of Europe without single sound of the horn. I saw the world wonder of cars sounding horn at the cars in front when they have stopped at the red light only in India.

Buses like Layland and Tata are outdated and they make excessive noise and vibrations which are harmful for people. Not only they are harmful for the people who travel in them and live outside along the roads but also for the fauna and flora of the subcontinent. These bus companies should be given time to come up with modification to the buses that will eliminate noise and vibration or should have their production discontinued and these outdated buses should be taken off the roads. India goes and acquires these outdated technologies from other countries and in turn dumps these out dated products within India and neighbouring countries without caring for the welfare of her people. This practice should stop.

Fibre glass toilets can be mass produced in break down form and can be easily assembled. The toilet collection can be done in degradable and disposable bags which can be collected in containers provided and collected by public utility companies and disposed elsewhere or incinerated. This system can be very useful in large gatherings as well individual homes without toilets in large cities where there is a problem of drinking water from wells being polluted by sewage.

Modi appearing with a broom is a good sign. Now he should enact the laws needed at the central level, state level and panchayat level which should see the transfer of no man’s land to common ownership and bring new responsibility to the citizen which is needed to sustain the mission that can be promoted at SAARC level. Going down this route, we could see a clean shaven Indian sub-continent in six months.

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