A couple of years ago, I went on a holiday to a resort about 25 km north of Puri in Orissa. The resort was in the middle of nowhere and the only civilisation around was a small village.
In the evenings just after sundown, the air would become highly polluted with the smell of burning garbage, including plastics.
Last year I went to Allahabad and also to Gwalior in the winter. These are cities in the north of India. In both these places again, the air was highly polluted and in the evenings it was like standing in the middle of a burning garbage dump.
After these experiences I realised that India’s smaller towns and cities are even more polluted than the metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Why is this so?
The single biggest culprit for the foul air in the evenings is the burning of garbage. Nowadays, as that garbage includes plastic packaging, this pollution is toxic, loaded with dioxins and is cancer-causing.
Unlike the leading metros, the smaller towns and the villages do not have waste collection and disposal services that serve all the localities. People are collecting garbage and burning it.
This is a huge problem. Millions of people in smalltown India are poisoning themselves by simply breathing the air.