For Sendhil, it’s all about keeping the trucks coming in at the right time, at the right pace. “If work stops here, then they’ll be a line of trucks waiting, people’s trash won’t get picked up. So, we just have to make sure everything keeps going.” Thus, he’s not concerned about segregation, or recycling. What he needs are good roads, infrastructure, he says. Only with that can they keep pushing the trash away from the houses, and prevent “incidents” like the small fires that break out on occasion.
While most of my middle class informants have shied away from discussing caste, and instead point to class as being more of a social indicator in Chennai nowadays, Elango is insistent that “development and economics are masking the social, caste system.” Urbanization is just a process; caste is a system, a way of life so deeply entrenched that it has become taken for granted. This caste system entrenchment has in turn translated into not only a lack of empathy, but a sense that certain people belong or deserve certain tasks, such as clearing garbage, or waste picking. Elango’s words reminded me of a Ramky Group (a private company in charge of waste disposal for a few Chennai zones) street sweeper in Mylapore with whom I spoke in April, who echoed this idea that people don’t stop to think that someone is coming behind them to clean up the garbage they throw on the streets.
By Ashwini Srinivasamoha. Chennai, the Indian state capital of Tamil Nadu, is the sixth most populous city in India, and is located on the southeast coast of India. One of the most severe environmental and public health issues facing Chennai is waste, and is currently managed through two refuse dumps, receiving over 5,000 tons of […]
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