The sufferings of tribals, who mostly reside in the backward districts of the country, have over the decades been a subject of research and analysis. But the problem has become acute and taken centrestage with the Centre waging a battle against Naxals in these tribal areas.

The best option is, of course, recycling in an environmentally sound manner. But it is also a fact that most civic bodies fail to collect and dispose waste. Instead of implementing techno logical innovations States such as Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal other than Delhi have banned the use of plastic bags.

President Pratibha Patil recently issued a clarion call for implementing the "total cleanliness mission" in all villages by 2012, saying that sanitation was a key issue. Nearly 250 crore people in the world, most in the Third World, lacked this facility and that the international community, including the UN, was taking steps to motivate people to go in for complete sanitation, she noted.