Been there, done that

In a bid to facilitate waste management in the capital, the Ministry of Local Development has proposed implementation of a law that would fine any person throwing garbage in a public place up to Rs. 50,000. This aims to formulate a Waste Management Code (WMC) with the objective of detering people from littering public places and encouraging them to dispose of waste in designated places. To make the law more stringent, the ministry has also proposed imprisonment of 15 days to three months for those who obstruct waste management process by organising strikes and bandhs.

Not very long ago, a similar initiative was taken by the traffic authorities to curb traffic violations in the capital. However, the initiative soon ran out of steam. Not only were the fines unreasonable but the authorities lacked enough gumption and integrity to implement the laws strictly. Instead the traffic cops used their authority to intimidate violators and take bribes. This is not to say that the proposed WMC should be scrapped. But it is important that the laws be made in a way that they can be easily and effectively implemented. A fine of, say, Rs. 500 would just as much deter people from throwing wastes in public places as would Rs. 50,000. What good would it do, if people instead of following the code, continue to violate laws and bribe officials to avoid punishment?