The very first thing we noticed when we left the airport was what smelled like wood-smoke in the air. I think that's why Indian women cover their faces with their scarves! Sometimes it was unbearable, but the guide just took it in stride. He did admit that there is a terrible problem with asthma in India.
I had read an article about how an environmental organization was trying to get rural Indians to tame the methane from cow manure to make natural gas to cook on, so I assumed that the smell was from burning wood - or dried cow dung - for cooking.
|Kali as trash in the Ganges|
We did hear about a trash collection system in Dharamsala, and were shown the dump even, but when I asked our driver what to do with the water bottles (another problem!) that had collected in the car, he just threw them on the growing pile on the sidewalk next to our hotel!
|Cows lying in trash along the road|
|Trash in a village pond|
My fellow travelers have said that this is typical in all the third world countries they visited - but India is trying to be first world. But when the trash problem is just as evident in Mumbai as in small villages, it has an enormous problem to manage. We were told that the job of collecting trash was often appointed and paid by the city council, but no one bothered to check up on whether it was being done.
Trash not only clogs the water ways, but, most importantly in India, causes constant smog that results in asthma among a large percentage of the children, in the cities as well as the countryside. The problem is not just stopping people from cutting down trees for fuel, but to solve the exponentially growing problem of plastic trash.