Who Moved my Garbage: Chennai in Action

Potholes on roads ? “No problem, we’ll drive around them”! Garbage dump piling up? “We’ll take a walk elsewhere”! Broken footpaths? “Wait, what are footpaths”?

Garbage trouble

Enter, the crusaders

Chennai Corporation Helpline (credit The Hindu)
A JCB Loader, incase you don’t know what they are

Customary 10k foot analysis

  1. Government-led processes: Had the system been better setup, the offenders would’ve been warded off or perhaps not felt the need to act as apathetically as they did. Failing this, the municipality should’ve identified the issue even before a citizen complaint was registered. I believe that these core processes will get better/be instituted with time and wealth.
  2. Government machinery: This article was a description of how government machinery came together to fix a problem once it was identified. Such municipality-centric operations, and grievance redressal systems setup by the central government seem to be working really well by the looks of it. My naive analysis here is that the primary challenge ahead is to ensure that these bodies are allocated sufficient resources — my CI did confess that it was a struggle to put together the team and machinery that solved our issue, due to a shortage of resources and an excess of complaints.
  3. Citizens: A lot of these problems are self-inflicted. Had my neighboring hospitals/hotels not broken the rules in the first place, this issue wouldn’t have cropped up. What’s more, in the weeks following this clean-up, I find that garbage is beginning to build up all over again since people aren’t willing to place their trash inside the bin. Our ability as a community to self-police and act in the interest of the greater good, rather than for localized individual benefit is perhaps the most difficult step that remains to be taken. I worry that this equilibrium will take generations to change.
Garbage goes inside the bin!




Co-founder@Semantics3 | find me at govindc.com

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Govind Chandrasekhar

Govind Chandrasekhar

Co-founder@Semantics3 | find me at govindc.com

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