Garbage queen Shimla amongst garbage capped mountains of Himachal


By: Varun

Thinking of Shimla, Dharamshala or Manali will lead you to think of snow covered peaks, green and pollution free environs. Let’s get the record straight as most of these hill stations in Himachal will welcome you with tonnes of garbage lying along the streets or thrown along the crevices in forests. The local newspapers write every other day about the crisis like situation in Shimla with respect to garbage disposal. Few days back Nityin a blogger from Shimla raised this issue in his blog. The issue is being raised constantly but a solution is no where in sight.

It will be unfair to put the complete blame on the government or Municipal Corporation. A fortnight ago, I saw a young worker of the municipality cleaning the road near bus stand in Shimla at 5:30 in the morning with temperature down to -9 degree Celsius. I distinctly remember him using a broom with bare hands. A news article in one of the prominent Hindi news daily, mentioned about the shortage of staff for keeping Shimla clean.

The problem impacts us in many ways. The immediate impact is in terms of the health of people living in the dirty surroundings. There is an increasing population of street dogs which continue to roam freely, feed on the garbage dumps and on and off do not dither from taking a bite at human flesh. The worst case scenario is when we are left with nothing beautiful to show to our traveller friends in our hill stations.

Garbage dump in Khalini

In the past one year, we have seen all kinds of stakeholders taking initiatives to clean up Shimla. The honourable High Court took upon itself to ban the dumpers in Shimla. Following these orders, the Shimla municipality went ahead and partnered with the Centre for Development Communication, Ahmedabad to implement a door to door collection scheme. However, it is a different matter that the scheme has completely flopped. Now the municipal corporation is planning to blacklist the company.

The government at its level had instructed the forest department to form a committee comprising of Municipal commissioner and representatives of PWD. The committee is yet to meet. It is interesting to note that a proper site to dump garbage in Shimla is yet to be identified. The one in use is already filled up and most of the times garbage is thrown around it and not in it.


Garbage in the Nallah flowing between the Lift and Hotel Combermere

We, the responsible citizens are to be blamed too. I mean how many times the responsible citizens have thrown garbage inside the dumps and not around it. How many times have we segregated the garbage, which we dispose into perishable and non perishable items. Owners of eateries on the Mall make good money selling pastries, pakoras and sandwiches, but have done little efforts to dispose of paper plates, which tourists throw in bins placed recklessly by them in front of their shops.


Dustbins on Mall road, Shimla

Democracy is about engagement. Until and unless citizens engage in the process, it is bound to fail. While talking to my mother, I got to know that the garbage dump in our street in Dharamshala is now being cleaned regularly. What made the difference? The citizens of the area got together and said, “Well, we have had enough”. So they ensure that ward members, municipality officials come to the spot and take responsibility to get the dump cleaned. Sometimes solutions to many problems are quite simple. All we need to do is to engage.

Now we know that Municipal corporation is clueless, so is the Government. It’s time that we the citizens get-together put our brains together and suggest ways to get our habitations clean. We invite our readers to send their suggestions to help tide over this crisis. You can suggest methods of waste disposal which work effectively. Send references of experts on this subject. Tell us how citizens have organised in your neighbourhood to make it clean? Can private sector play some role here?

We promise to compile your views and send it to the concerned officials, follow it up and keep you informed. So leave your comments or Write to Us

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  1. i live in rohru i think it will be the next tourist destination chanshal pass, chander nahan, lake sungri, moral dand, hatkoti temple, and varios sites in rohru are quite beautiful. the same scenario as you mentioned in your story is quite same in our town the nagar panchayat always cries for adequate staff.

  2. @Sujayaryan

    I belong to Narkanda and the bazaar here must be the dirtiest in the state. Hordes of cows throng the market as the waste from dhabas and tea stalls is thrown just across the shops and is lapped up by these cows. The bazaar is full of all cowdung and all sort of rubbish. The local nagar panchayat officials are local shop owners and care two hoots for cleanliness.

    Narkanda being a major stop over for buses from Rampur, Kinnaur and Shimla hills there is still no proper provision of a decent toilet. A small dirty and dingy toilet is functional in the market. The worst sufferers are the ladies as the ladies toilet is locked at 6 pm and ladies traveling by evening and night buses have to releive themselves in open on the approach road leading to Hotel Hatu.

    I don't know why over elected people are hell bent on keeping the places dirty. Why these people cannot think of cleanliness and basic public services. The rot is more mental than anything else I can think of.


    The MC finally placed a dumper!!

  3. I am wary about a news item appearing in yesterday's newspapers about yet another private company being engaged to clean Shimla. All this means more trouble for Shimla. The city has seen deterioration in cleanliness for the past 2-3 years and the MC has been experimenting in darkness for so long. There is no proper water supply in the city, no proper hygine and sanitation, no park for children, no proper pedestrian roads, no proper vehicular roads, encroachment everywhere even next to ridge where hawkers sell soups to sandwiches and above all No Planning and Vision for improvement for the city.

    This is no Municipal Corporation. This is Murda Corporation. Welcome to Garbage Queen.. The wh#@% of hills.

  4. I got the shock of my life when I got to India for the first time last year! Everything you say is true! I love India and Indians but am totally baffled at the complete disregard the average Indian has towards the disposal of rubbish! I stayed at Mcleodganj-Dharamshala for 6 months – one of the most beautiful places on earth, but spoiled by the heaps of stinking refuse clogging the creeks, choking the forests, littering the otherwise picturesque village. I actually saw a family throwing their garbage (plastic bottles, cans, wrappers,etc..)from their balcony into the green valley below their home! The area surrounding their block of apartments was full of this garbage. It didn't seem to occur to these residents that having a nice view from their living room was important. The whole village reeks of urine and decaying trash.

    On another occasion, while traveling by bus, we crossed a pristine looking wide river. An Indian mother chose that moment to pull down the window and toss a big plasic bag full of bottles. plastics and empty snack packets, straight into this sparkling blue river! She did not try to hide what she was doing. None of the other passengers – all Indian- thought anything of it.

    In Australia, as in most countries, such an act would be punishable by law. But nobody in their right mind would even dream of disposing of rubbish in this manner. There would have been an outcry from the other passengers!

    Wake up India, stop before it is too late and you have destroyed your unique country!

  5. Mistreating garbage mistreats you.

    Civic sense continues to evade all of us…eventhough we don't get tired of singing hosannas to the excellent town planning and waste disposal facilites the 'Late' Indus valley civilisation showcased.

  6. Keep up the good work. More articles like this on a regular basis would do their part in raising conciousness.

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