In West Bengal, India, the town of Jaigaon faces big challenges. Among them, massive littering and serious solid waste management problems. How many of the citizens care about the situation and is the will strong enough to solve the problems?
It’s November and even though the “colder” period is coming, the temperature is around 28 degrees centigrade. I ﬁnish my water and start to look for a bin to get rid of the bottle. Funny enough I don’t manage to ﬁnd a single one, looking like the confused tourist I am. I meet up with my local guide Ramkumar Lama, a well-dressed man who speaks eights different languages. He is going to trek with me in the hills later on, and I ask where I should put the bottle. “Put it here and eventually someone will pick it up”, he replies while pointing at the sidewalk. I put it on the ground. It feels wrong.
|Mr. Sudhir Moktan ( Founder – Green Revolution)|
I meet with Sudhir Moktan, a former Gurkha warrior who gives me an impression of pure kindness and goodwill. He is the front ﬁgure of Green Revolution, a non-proﬁt social organization with the aim to tackle the issues related to the solid waste management in Jaigaon. Among many things, they arrange cleaning days, when they pick up all the trash in the streets. Mr Moktan is considered a high proﬁle man by the locals, as he also works with solving different social issues. We go for a walk together and he shows me around town. I can feel how the attention is drawn to us.
We go through narrow alleys with barbed wire walls, passing by small shops and end up at the gate to Bhutan. Jaigaon is actually one of those few cities having a road into Bhutan. There is heavy trafﬁc through the gate and on the other side, the streets are completely clean. A striking contrast.
As the discussion goes on, I am puzzled by the minimal effort the people working at the stores do to help the cleaning process. The rubbish is not really neatly tied in bags, not even put in bins or buckets, which would have been easy to collect and make the town look a lot tidier while waiting for someone to pick it up.
Mr. Moktan tells me that one solution to the situation could be to start to separate at the source. If you could reuse material, people might be motivated to collect trashes as it could be proﬁtable for them in a recycling industry.
Together with a tourist group, I visit one of the tea gardens and factories outside the town. It’s impressing to see these women pick leaves at a high frequency. In one of the ﬁelds, we see four men standing on a line, watching the women working. I learn they are some kind of controllers, ensuring that the tea pickers pick leaves in the right lanes. To me, it looks like a one-man job and I get the feeling that these jobs are invented just to keep people engaged.
As we go back to Jaigaon it’s hard not to notice all the people along the roads that seem to have nothing to do, many of them basically just sit in the shadow, staring with empty eyes.
About the Author :
|Martin Olson ( Photojournalist and Filmmaker)|
Martin Olson is a Swedish photojournalist, dedicated to giving people new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, hopefully igniting a spark that results in a positive mental state or action.