- Some of India's biggest cities—including New Delhi, Patna, Goa, and Navi Mumbai—are tackling littering and illegal dumping by launching garbage "watchdog" programs through the use of smartphone apps.
- Citizens are being encouraged to report dumping, burning waste, and other illegal activity through apps like WhatsApp, or Swachh Delhi and Apna Patna, both launched by the state government. In areas like Navi Mumbai, hotline tips are followed by vehicles carrying the "Nuisance Detection Squads" to stop litter violators, and the "Flying Debris Squads" to stop truckers that are suspected of dumping.
- In Navi Mumbai, violators that are caught littering can be fined 100 rupees on first offense and 250 rupees for each offense after, and truckers can have their vehicles confiscated and pay a fine of up to 30,000 rupees. On the other hand, citizens can receive a 1,000 rupee prize for each time they report an offender.
The "debris police" in Navi Mumbai alone have received more than 300 tips via WhatsApp since the program was started in January.
"Technology-driven initiatives such as this WhatsApp helpline can help build a bridge between the city authorities and the citizens," said Babasaheb Rajale, the former deputy municipal commissioner in charge of solid waste management at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corp, to Bloomberg. "It gives a touch point to citizens to reach us directly."
Initiatives like these are incredibly important for India, where 140,000 metric tons of garbage are disposed of each day (compared to 4,700,000 metric tons of garbage being generated across the world daily). New Delhi has also been reported as having the world's worst air quality.
“Municipal officials can’t be everywhere," said Rajale to Bloomberg. "Why not have citizens act as our eyes and ears?"
Trash "policing" in the United States has been practiced too, but has not been well received. In late 2015, a "war on waste" was sparked in Seattle after the city hired full-time solid waste inspectors to ensure that city residents were properly recycling. The issue of illegal dumping, however, is a big problem across the nation and could maybe benefit from initiatives similar to the hotline programs in India.