Tirupati has more pilgrims than most other cities in the world. Though the temple is located outside the city, there is a still a lot of trash from a roaming population the city has to deal with. It also has a fair amount of its own trash — at least 140 tonne a day that is collected and dumped. But, Tirupati’s waste collection and disposal is probably one of the most poorly handled systems in the country. For one, though the average pilgrim can’t see it, but most of the trash is burned. This is illegal. Ironically, the waste is burned next to a series of wind-mills. Wastepickers rummage through the smouldering ash. How tragic that in a town where so much wealth circulates, there lies this toxic underside. Perhaps the Tirupati municipality should begin doorstep collection and recycle the waste. The presence of windmills will then seem less hypocritical.
Many Indians are amused by tourists who wear masks. Now, a new study published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, conducted on Beijing roads, suggests that wearing a high-efficiency mask can protect a person from air pollution and coronary heart disease. In India, we discuss masks as an occupational safety feature. We need masks that can keep out smaller particles, and these are expensive, not to mention uncomfortable in the humidity. But while air pollution is still beyond safety limits, we may have to throw fashion to the winds. But this should not stop government from cleaning up our air.