US India Global Review 2018

I t's 6:30 a.m. in the Indian city of Mysuru and the streets are full of the sound of whistles blowing as workers in olive green aprons and rubber gloves begin a door-to-door search. They have come to collect one of India's biggest untapped resources: garbage. The about 1 million citizens in the southern city, also known as Mysore, are in the vanguard of a campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the country and recycle rubbish into compost and electricity. The task is gargantuan, but the approach in Mysuru -- combining the availabili- ty of cheap labor with traditional methods and modern plants -- shows how the country might overturn its image of ubiquitous trash. India's cities are among the largest garbage generators in the world, producing about 62 million tons of waste every year. Only about 82 percent of it is collected and only 28 percent of that is treated and processed. Most goes into landfills, open dump sites or is just left on the ground, often clogging rivers and drains. The recent rapid expansion of India's economy has moved its reputation for poor sanitation and dirty streets into a full-blown crisis. Rising wealth and consumption, and growing urbanization could cause the amount of urban solid waste to increase five-fold by 2051, according to a paper pub- lished in 2016 by researchers at New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University. Cities that can find an economic way to deal with the issue could reap a windfall in terms of investment and the bene- A man carries bags of recyclables on a bicycle in Mysuru, India, on Nov. 21, 2017. Photo: Samyukta Lakshmi/ Bloomberg Indian city turns mountain of trash into cash INGENUITY By Bibhudatta Pradhan 38 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018