Thursday, July 29, 2021
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After one year, Swachh Bharat stands in garbage

The campaign has lost its sheen after one year as garbage remains unattended on streets for several days.

Narendra-ModiLast year Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with an intention to make India filth free by 2019 and pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 150th birthday which falls in the same year. Several celebrities too had picked up the groom and cleaned the streets in support of the campaign. However the enthusiasm has faded away after one year as garbage keep piling on streets and remain unattended for several days. Thus the campaign has lost its sheen after one year as it has turned into a  photo op event for politicians and celebrities. The government only launched the cleanliness drive but it has failed to oversee its successful implementation across the nation. If this campaign has to succeed then it needs to be turned into a people’s movement. At many places, politicians used to deliberately litter a road and later clean up the area and pose for photographs. How will the Swachh Bharat campaign succeed through such kind of gimmicks? Even though few schools had observed the cleanliness drive by involving students but citizens failed to participate in it.

In order to eliminate open defecation and adopt better solid waste management practices the government had planned to construct 25 lakh individual toilets, 1 lakh community and public toilets but it has been able to achieve 25 per cent target in terms of toilet construction. The government had also planned to achieve 100 per cent collection and transportation of waste in 1000 cities but it has failed to implement it effectively. Rankings released earlier show several major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur among others fare poorly on the cleanliness scale.

Arun Gadekar, a Borivali resident said, “The government had launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with much fanfare but its results are not visible. The campaign failed to succeed as there was lack of designated agencies to oversee its implementation. The government could have taken the assistance of civic body and NGO’s to take this campaign forward.”

Rupesh Seth, a Kandivali resident said, “The onus lies on citizens to make this campaign successful as we can’t expect the government to do everything. If citizens clean their vicinity then it will create a major difference.”

While explaining the not-so-satisfactory figures a year into the mission, the government’s official version is that their initial focus has been on a campaign to induce behavioral change in people. While such a change is imperative, it can only happen if the required physical infrastructure is in place. For instance, it is a tall order to wish away open defecation or eradication of manual scavenging unless people have access to toilets that are serviced by municipal systems.

Likewise, merely attitudinal changes in people will not end the problem of garbage accumulation in our cities unless the complete chain of garbage management is in place: from separation of dry and wet waste at source to processing in landfills.

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