food stalls shimla toursit spots

Shimla’s forests, popular tourist spots hit by ‘Litterbugs’

Hasan Valley-Shimla

Do you know what a litterbug is? The dictionary will define it as “a person who carelessly drops litter in a public place”. Are you one? The word is made for Indian folks. These litterbugs have hit Shimla’s natural beauty as well, and now, it stands shrouded by garbage, while the Govt. makes no efforts, no awareness campaigns,  proper disposal arrangements, no strict actions against violators.

SHIMLA- People of Himachal do feel proud on the magnificent gift that nature has endowed the place with; however, they have no idea regarding the respect it demands to sustain the original state. Shimla City is already struggling with garbage trouble, but the suburbs and places like the Chadwick Falls, Hassan Valley, famous for dense Deodar tree cover that hides Himalayan wildlife under it, are in the grip of human littering. Take a look at these photos and a video. It’s garbage all around this particular roadside spot at Hassan Valley. You can commonly see people peeing in public, openly burning the garbage, throwing bottles and beverage wrappings, smoking etc.

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food stalls shimla toursit spots

The Kulcha Walas and small snack stalls on the roadside, all of them feel free to push the garbage down the hill, into the forest. Many native Himachal people would argue that these guys are migrants from other backward states like UP and Bihar, and that we should not blame innocent ‘Himachalis’ for their litter. Well, we would like to make it clear that the public in Shimla is no less than these tourists or migrants. Not only the public, but each and everyone in the chain that began from citizens, goes through garbage collectors, and Municipal Corporation and ends as ugly scenes in Shimla, is equally responsible for this mess.

shimla forest garbage

The Govt. doesn’t seem to be interested in reforming the present state of affairs. There has been time when, in order to handle the similar scenario, the developed countries like USA had to spend on public awareness campaigns through electronic media, newspapers, radios etc., on better education at schools, and better management of violators. It took a lot of efforts to tame the citizens. Here, in India, the election budget of Indian political parties surpassed that of U.S.A. in 2014 elections, but the nation remains poor when it comes to the real jobs.

Related Story: So, is this how Shimla Ward Councilors fix the garbage?

tourism in shimla and garbage issue

The tourists, especially the domestic once, behave like migrated monkeys. They come in luxury cars, wearing those expensive Ray-Ban goggles, dressed in what is latest in brands; they appreciate the beauty and then honor it by littering the roadside and the forests. The locals don’t mind it. The public don’t feel that disgust for the litterbugs which indeed they really deserved. Our silence is doing more damage than  than the incompetence of HP Tourism Deptt., Forest Deptt., and Shimla MC.

.shimla tourist waste

That’s quite enough of polite hospitality. The HP Tourism Department needs to show some real tough attitude to such guests. Come on. The tourists already have enough to spend on a holiday. They are the ones who can afford to bear the penalties. All that the Govt. need to do is to target their pockets for littering Shimla. Execute draconian laws if required to tame uncivilized savages. For example, if someone caught throwing waste paper or plastic anywhere in Singapore, he/she will attract a fine of $200, no arguments. In Shimla, we have a fine of Rs. 200 or 500 painted at some spots, but it’s very rare that there is any supervision or execution of rules on the behalf of Govt. What’s the matter? Why the Govt. is so lenient and tolerant to such litterbugs?

indian litterbug

Next comes the party people, who love the serenity of isolated spots in the forests, but leave the whisky and the cold drink bottles behind to mark their presence. Take a look at the above posted image. It’s the roadside. The forests are also full of bottles. These drunkards or party lovers are not only causing environmental pollution, but also the visual pollution, making almost every tourist spot in Shimla an ugly scene.

shimla waste disposal

If you wonder why such a filth around never surprised you, then you must read about ‘Broken Window Theory’. It’s basically a criminological theory, but it’s really useful if we could associate it with the behavioral pattern behind any particular habit. The theory came up after it was published in an article in 1982 by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. Here are the most relevant lines:

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.”

“Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.”

The unchecked littering habits, unhygienic practices, and the uncivilized behavior  get a boost of encouragement to litterbugs everytime they are tolerated by the authorities and the public itself. Also, here, the parents didn’t actually fail in guiding the children towards appropriate waste disposal habits because they never tried or they themselves never followed any these positive habits.

shimla burning garbage

Click To View Photos/Read related Complaint by A HW Reader

Rather, people of all ages feel free to dispose beverage wrappings, cold drink or mineral water bottles anywhere they please. Onlookers don’t mind it; rather, it gives them one of the most used excuse for justifying their own faults. No one follows rules, rules are meant to break, and laws are only for the weak or how much damage it would cause to the environment if I drop a cigarette butt on ground, these are the arguments which we Indian litterbugs find convincing and consoling for our morally corroding souls.

Related Story: HPU campus, nearby forests filled with garbage, Who is responsible?

There isn’t any clue of concise regarding the cleanliness and hygiene among Indians. There was this article on The Hindu titled “Are Indians by nature unhygienic?” It said:

“If there is a ranking of countries in respect of observance of standards of sanitation and hygiene, one can be sure that India would figure close to the bottom. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits.”

To conclude with, if you think poverty, illiteracy, and lack awareness or resources have made the society more vulnerable to negative garbage disposal behavior, then take a look what another article, which is a contrast to the excuses Indian Govt. keep releasing in press releases

“Singapore became an independent country in 1965, about 20 years after India. In a few decades, it went from a being a Third World country to a developed first-world country. The architect of this transformation was Lee Kuan Yew, who served as its PM from its birth in 1965 to 1990. This is all the more remarkable because Singapore has no natural resources to speak of, and has to depend on neighboring Malaysia even for drinking water (while in India, even neighboring States cannot reach an amicable settlement on sharing river waters). Today, the country has the third highest per capita income in the world (higher than the U.S., Japan, and countries of Western Europe), and boasts of having the world’s number one airline.”

It’s more about the will to change the ugly scenario going on in Shimla including most the popular tourist spots, temples, forests etc. Please, wake up. Stop being a litterbug and bother to speak or report if you see anyone littering around. If nothing more, then just click a photo of these litterbugs, if you ever come across one, and directly post them in HW UrNews Section, without mentioning any personal details regarding you identity.

A Gallery Showing Shimla’s Forests Filled with Garbage

Hasan Valley

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