It is the fourth video she has made on the garbage in her small town. “My town has a major garbage problem,” says Sunita, “People keep their houses clean. They may even want to live in clean neighborhoods but public places like markets, parks and gardens, open spaces are the worst hit.”
Today’s video focuses on the Kaila Devi temple, Karauli’s single most populous square meters. On the banks of the river Banas, this around 1000 year old temple sees over 7 million footfalls a year. Just in the period between March and April which coincides with the holy month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar, the temple receives more than 200,000 visitors. There is a fifteen day religious carnival where devotees from acrossNorth Indiacome to worship the resident Goddess.
“When the festival comes to an end and the rush of the pilgrims begins to slow, the environment resembles a wasteland,” says Sunita. “There is plastic floating on the river, flowers and other offerings rotting in mounds and an overpowering stench pervades the entire perimeter of the temple.”
The State ofRajasthanand the local Municipality and the temple trust work together to facilitate the carnival but garbage disposal is not an issue on their minds. The locals and especially the people living around the temple area are the ones who suffer. In the absence of basic sanitation, there are frequent outbreaks of malaria and cholera in the population.
Sunita wants to know why garbage disposal does not come under the purview of those managing the carnival. She tried to approach the authorities for the video but her attempts to get responses did not succeed. “Devotees donate a lot of money to the temple trust during the fest,” says Sunita. “I don’t see why a part of it cannot be used towards cleaning the environment.”
Just a few days ago, the river Banas was cleaned along its Karauli stretch. Sunita says that the trawled garbage has been let to rot on the banks. She is also planning a video on a pond that has been left to rot for the last ten years.
“It is difficult to get the municipal authorities to even talk about the issue. But I’m persisting till they can’t help but may attention,” says Sunita, sounding like she’s getting a little bit angry about the way things are. “I’m just tired of clamping my nose down every time I walk past a public space.”