Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about Waste and recycling in India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Badi Chaupar is literally meaning 'Large square', also known as 'Manak Chowk', is a public square in Jaipur, India. Out of all the measures that are necessary in addressing India's impending waste management crisis, the most efficient will be changes at the national policy and planning level. It is well known among the small but growing waste management sector that urban India will hit the bottom due to improper waste management.
Badi Chaupar is literally meaning 'Large square', also known as 'Manak Chowk', is a public square in Jaipur, India. Out of all the measures that are necessary in addressing India's impending waste management crisis, the most efficient will be changes at the national policy and planning level. It is well known among the small but growing waste management sector that urban India will hit the bottom due to improper waste management.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Waste and recycling in India

An average of 32,000 people will be added to urban India every day, continuously. This number is a warning, considering how India's waste management infrastructure went berserk trying to deal with just 25,000 new urban Indians during the last decade. The scale of urbanization in India and around the world is unprecedented with planetary consequences to Earth's limited material and energy resources and its natural balance also in Badi Chaupar, a hub of artisans, jewelers and craftsmen and one of the two major squares constructed by the King of Amer the waste is very visible in the streets.

Why is recycling important?

Recycling is good for the environment because in a sense, we are using old and waste products that are of no use and then converting them back to the same new products. Since we are saving resources and are sending less trash to the landfills, it helps in reducing air and water pollution.

Waste problems in India
As a photographer and traveler in India it is hard to ignore the waste that is filling the streets in India. Rate of increase in access to sanitation infrastructure generally lags behind the rate of urbanization by 33 percent around the world. However, the lack of planning and impromptu piecemeal responses to waste management issues observed in India might indicate a much wider gap. This means urban Indians will have to wait longer than an average urban citizen of our world for access to proper waste management infrastructure. The clear trend in the outbreak of epidemic and public protests around India is that they are happening in the biggest cities in their respective regions.

However, long term national level plans to improve waste management in India do not exist and guidance offered to urban local bodies is meager. The photographer think India really need to something about the waste, it is not enough to address the scale and extent of the problem, instead India need a long term financing program, sorts of which are required to tackle issues like solid waste management. Are cities hands-tied or is change possible you can ask. In the short term, municipal corporations have their hands tied and will not be able to deliver solutions immediately. They face the task of realizing waste management facilities inside or near cities while none of their citizens want them near their residences.

Finding new landfills in and around cities is nearly impossible
In spite of the mounting pressure, most corporations will not be able to close the dumpsites that they are currently using. This might not be the good news for which local residents could be waiting, but, it is important that bureaucrats, municipal officials and politicians be clear about it. Finding new landfills in and around cities is nearly impossible because of the track record of dumpsite operations and maintenance in India. However, the corporations can and should take measures to reduce landfill fires and open burning and control pollution due to leachate and odor and vector nuisance. This will provide much needed relief to adjacent communities and give the corporations time to plan better.

While navigating through an issue as sensitive this, it is of the utmost importance that they work closely with the community by increasing clarity and transparency. Municipal officials at the meeting repeatedly stressed the issue of scarcity of land for waste disposal, which led to overflowing dumpsites and waste treatment facilities receiving more waste than what they were designed for.

Most municipal officials in India are of the sense that a magic solution is right around the corner which will turn all of their city's waste like here in Jaipur into fuel oil or gas or into recycled products. While such conversion is technologically possible with infinite energy and financial sources, that is not the reality. Despite their inability to properly manage wastes, the majority of municipal officials consider waste as wealth when approached by private partners. Therefore, a significant portion of officials expect royalty from private investments without sharing business risk. Waste management crisis in India should be approached holistically, while planning for long term solutions, focus on addressing the immediate problems should be maintained.

"National and local governments should work with their partners to promote source separation, achieve higher percentages of recycling and produce high quality compost from organics. While this is being achieved and recycling is increased, provisions should be made to handle the non-recyclable wastes that are being generated and will continue to be generated in the future"

India's waste crisis
Recycling, composting and waste-to-energy are all integral parts of the waste disposal solution and they are complementary to each other; none of them can solve India's waste crisis alone. Any technology should be considered as a means to address public priorities, but not as an end goal in itself. Finally, discussion on waste management should consider what technology can be used, to what extent in solving the bigger problem and within what timeframe. Experts believe India will have more than 9 waste-to-energy projects in different cities across India in the next three years, which will help alleviate the situation to a great extent.

However, since waste-to-energy projects are designed to replace landfills, they also tend to displace informal settlements on the landfills. Here, governments should welcome discussions with local communities and harbor the informal recycling community by integrating it into the overall waste management system to make sure they do not lose their rights for the rest of the city's residents. This is important from a utilitarian perspective too, because in case of emergency situations the informal recycling community might be the only existing tool to mitigate damage due to improper waste management as opposed to infrastructure projects which take more than one year for completion and public awareness programs which take decades to show significant results.

See this video about waste in India made by DW News.

"- As a passionate traveler, I've always been drawn to the vibrant culture and rich history of India. From the bustling streets of Delhi to the waters of the Ganges, this country never fails to amaze me. However, during my recent trip to India, I was confronted with a pressing issue that is often overlooked – waste management. My journey began in the bustling city of Delhi, where the streets were lined with garbage and overflowing bins. The smell was overpowering and it was disheartening to see the state of the streets in such a vibrant city. I couldn't help but wonder how such a popular tourist destination can have such a major waste management problem", the Photographer says.

"- As I traveled to different cities and towns, the sight of piles of trash became a common occurrence. I witnessed people throwing waste on the streets without a second thought and it was a shock to see the lack of concern for the environment. The situation was even worse in rural areas, where there were no proper waste disposal systems in place", the Photographer says again.

"- I decided to dig deeper into this issue and spoke to a few locals about their perspective on waste management. To my surprise, many of them were not aware of the consequences of improper waste disposal. They were used to the inefficient garbage collection and disposal methods and didn't see it as a problem. But the reality is, India generates more than 100 million tons of waste annually and a huge portion of it ends up in landfills, polluting the soil and water. The rapid urbanization, lack of infrastructural development and poor waste management policies have only worsened the problem. One of the most alarming aspects I came across was the issue of open burning of waste. In many places, I saw people burning large piles of garbage, which not only releases harmful toxins into the air but also contributes to air pollution, a major problem in India. However, I was relieved to see some positive initiatives being taken by individuals and organizations to tackle this problem. In many cities, I came across waste segregation and recycling programs run by NGOs, where locals were educated about the importance of proper waste disposal. Some hotels and restaurants have also started using eco-friendly alternatives and banning single-use plastics
", the Photographer says again.

"- My experience with waste in India was a major eye-opener. It made me realize the impact of our actions on the environment and the urgent need for better waste management policies. As a responsible traveler, I made sure to minimize my own waste and educate others around me about the importance of responsible waste disposal. India has a long way to go in terms of waste management, but the awareness and efforts of certain individuals and organizations give me hope for a cleaner and greener future. As travelers, it is our responsibility to promote sustainable practices and encourage others to do the same. Let's all do our part in preserving the beauty of this incredible country
", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Sweeping man in Jaipur

Sweeping man in Jaipur

Read also:  Sweeping man in Jaipur

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a pile of waste in Jaipur. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.