There is a lot of repetition in the stories that are published on Vrindavan Today as the same problems continue without much resolution. Traffic problems arising from increased vehicular traffic in the narrow streets of Vrindavan, which was not created with the internal combustion engine in mind, is one of them. Hopefully sense will be victorious over greed this time around and everyone who walks around Vrindavan will be able to have a more satisfying experience of the varieties of religious experience that it has to offer.
Another recurring subject on these pages is the waste disposal problem. There has been some improvement over the last few years, no doubt. The laying of interlocking brick roads through most of the town has helped, but we still see the drains crammed to the full with garbage of various kinds. No matter what little improvement is there, it is still not enough.
A few days ago, there was another impromptu raid on small businesses, fining them for using polythene bags and confiscating these from them. This was not the first time we have seen this drama being enacted in Mathura-Vrindavan.
Such raids seem to me to be entirely wrongheaded. This is not the way that the problem of plastic clogging the city’s drains will be solved. This kind of raid has been conducted numerous times over the past few years, ever since these bags were officially made illegal. It would be relatively easy to stop the production and wholesaling of polythene bags if the real intention was to eliminate their use. Such actions only have the purpose of making a show and harassing small business people, since those higher on the food chain have political protections.
The real problem lies at a more basic level. Small business people – grocers, variety shops, and tea stalls especially – need to be responsible for their own storefront area. Tea shop keepers who use styrofoam cups, which are even more detrimental to the environment than plastic. But each tea stall, each shop keeper of every kind, should be obliged by municipal law to have a trash can nearby, and oblige their patrons to use them.
How often we see a tea stall or grocery store surrounded by litter without any care for the eyesore that is created. Each shopkeeper must be held responsible for the appearance of the area in front of it. They are the ones who should let their customers know that potato chip wrappers and other kinds of refuse belong in a trash can and not in the street or the drains.
It would be relatively easy to create a special unit of municipal employees in the santitation department empowered to fine these shopkeepers for transgressing the law. it would not even be necessary for them to be official police, that would be
There are several problems related to the garbage situation in Vrindavan, which can be reduced to: There is no plan.
There is no efficient removal of the waste. This is especially true in the residential areas.
Even if there were, the people have nowhere to put their garbage. This also is especially in residential areas. So householders have the habit of doing anything other than throwing their stuff wherever it is convenient for them, usually in a vacant lot or in the street.
There is no enforcement of littering offenses, which should be punishable by fines. In public areas where there are dumpsters, people should be obliged to use them.
The monkeys, cows and other loose creatures which scavenge on garbage. The monkey problem and the garbage problem are connected. Monkeys find it convenient to live in the city rather than in a natural environment because human leftovers are more interesting for them than a diet of neem leaves. Garbage bins that are not safeguarded against monkey scavengers will never be of any use.
Finally, it is a question of pride. If all the residents of Vrindavan, and shopkeepers in particular, take pride in the appearance of their municipality, recognizing that it is a holy land, that it should be kept pristine like a temple, like the lila playground of the Divine Couple, and act upon that faith, then only will something be accomplished. But since this seems to much to expect, fine the hell out of offenders, starting with the shopkeepers and including tourists and others who litter.