The Modi government is taking initiative to lead the nation towards progress and its efforts need to be applauded for performing admirable work. While the government received bouquets for its developmental work, it has also received brickbats for some of its policies which had affected the economy and caused hardship for the citizens. According to experts, the government could have handled the demonetisation issue, that caused maximum inconvenience to people, in a better manner. While the government might be receiving flak for hastily implementing demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST), it will prove beneficial for the nation in the long run. The Modi government had coined the slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ but now it faces a major challenge to fulfil this mission. On August 6, Material Recycling of India (MRAI) and NITI Aayog will be organising ‘International Conference on Sustainable Growth Through Recycling: Policy Prescriptions.’ Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari will be the Chief Guest of the function.
MRAI President Sanjay Mehta told this newspaper that “It is too early to decide if the government has failed or not, give them one more chance, so in next five years you may witness change.”
NITI Aayog has taken upon itself the role to evaluate the performances of the state government on few of the parameters and come out with ranking on issues of water management, district hospitals, and digital transaction index and education infrastructure. However, the institution is left with no power to incentivise as it cannot influence fund transfer to any of the states as had been the case with its predecessor Planning Commission.
Former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan said, “Basically, NITI Aayog is an institutional body and the government has dismantled the Planning Commission. Arvind Panagariya had resigned as he lacked clarity about his role in the organisation. After the new institution was formed, people questioned about the purpose behind its formation. They just removed the word planning from the Planning Commission and formed NITI Aayog that lacks creative vision.”
Sanjay Mehta is the President of Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI). He holds a Bachelors Degree and possesses more than 30 years of experience in Metal Scrap Recycling trade in India and international trade. Speaking highly about the government’s Swachh Bharat campaign, Mehta spoke about the importance of maintaining cleanliness. He admitted that everything is fair in politics. He spoke about the vision of the government in an interaction with our Group Editor Vaidehi Taman.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Vaidehi Taman: Why NITI Aayog is forming this Material Recycling Policy?
Sanjay Mehta: Material Recycling has become a crucial pillar for the sustainable development and growth of the world economy and the protection of its environment. Many countries have reached recyclable rates exceeding 80 per cent whereas India’s recycling rates are at about 25 per cent only. This is an industry that should provide a huge growth trajectory for the Indian Economy and has enormous potential for creating jobs across the skill spectrum in the industry. Its environmental impact is also a tremendous incentive for early adoption of a National Material Recycling Policy.
Vaidehi: Except the area of Versova and Juhu Beaches where celebrities run and tourists visit, we can witness garbage being thrown in the interior side?
Sanjay Mehta: I agree that garbage is being disposed on those areas of the beach. Today, at least, I don’t throw paper or plastic on roads and keep them in my pocket. Definitely, there is a change in the mindset.
Vaidehi: Earlier you used to litter on roads? My mother had taught me about civic sense but it seems your family couldn’t imbibe those values into you!
Sanjay Mehta: I agree that from the last four years some awareness is being created among the common man about maintaining cleanliness through the Swachh Bharat campaign. Even if we improve 30 per cent, it can make a difference. Since the last thousand years, we have not learnt about these aspects (he giggled).
Vaidehi: The cleanliness campaign was started long ago by Mahatma Gandhi.
Sanjay Mehta: Of course! But during those days, the campaign didn’t get much exposure. The Modi government had started campaigns to publicise the Swachh Bharat campaign. Almost 300 industries have been started through the Make in India campaign. Startup drive too has been started by the government.
Vaidehi: However, the Startup campaign has failed.
Sanjay Mehta: Three and a half crore cylinders have been surrendered by citizens. But now people are in favour of subsidy. The government agrees that import and excise duties should be withdrawn on metal scrap because it has been abolished from the world. The government wants to cut down imports and generate employment in India and hence, they are framing recycling policies. Now, petrol prices have gone down drastically all over the world but they have not passed on the benefits to the customers as they want to contain the fiscal deficit.
Vaidehi: The fiscal deficit for 2017-18 was 3.5 per cent and the government has set a target to bring it down to 3.3 per cent.
Sanjay Mehta: Look at the fiscal deficit now and four years back; definitely, changes can’t happen overnight.
Vaidehi: People say that PM Modi had given false promises. Four years are too much and the PM had asked only for 60 months!
Sanjay Mehta: Everything is fair in politics.
Vaidehi: Do you agree that the NITI Aayog Chairman (PM) is not keeping his promises?
Sanjay Mehta: As I said earlier, everything is fair in politics but he is a hardcore worker and doesn’t possess any selfish agenda. Changes are happening and today, I am getting an appointment by forwarding a letter to the ministers which were not the case earlier. I had written 25 letters to Manmohan Singh but didn’t get an appointment to meet him.
Vaidehi: Tell me about two significant changes made in NITI Aayog since the last four years.
Sanjay Mehta: Swachh Bharat (he mentioned only one development: Swachh Baharat)
Vaidehi: But Swachh Bharat is a failure!
Sanjay Mehta: Meet me after five years and changes will be visible (He giggled).
Vaidehi: Then, you can’t boast about it right now.
Sanjay Mehta: On an average, 2 km road was constructed per day since last 67 years. Since the last four years, on an average, 42 km road length per day is being constructed and if you calculate the yearly average, it comes to 25 km per day.
Vaidehi: What is your take on Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s Solid Waste Management?
Sanjay Mehta: The BMC lacks control over it. Funds for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan are being granted to them but they don’t utilise it. Hardly 20 per cent solid waste is being recycled and 80 per cent is going to landfill.
Vaidehi: How hard does NITI Aayog try to convince the voters about its success on development?
Sanjay Mehta: NITI Aayog is trying hard towards developmental work that’s happening right now.
Vaidehi: Do you think the present govt and its Ministers available for common people to listen to their difficulties?
Sanjay Mehta: Oh yes! Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Piyush Goyal are accessible. Write a letter to Suresh Prabhu and you will get an appointment.
Vaidehi: Too much garbage is lying near the high rises locations of metropolitan cities!
Sanjay Mehta: I definitely agree with you (He laughed). Will you vote for Modi?
Vaidehi: Well, Sanjay Mehta was quite convincing about NITI Aayog’s hard work towards development and quite nicely endorsed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tireless efforts towards development.
(Though, ever since the Modi government has come to power, it has failed to fulfil the promises made by it to the people. The government had promised to control inflation but it has been increasing. It has been unable to maintain the fall of Rupee. The Naxal insurgency has become a threat to the nation’s security but the government has not taken action to address it. The government also had planned to create 2 crore jobs but it has failed to fulfil it. It had also promised to bring back black money but no breakthrough has been achieved. Terrorism activities have increased across the border but the government has been unable to contain it. There has been an increase in lynching incidents after the government came to power. The government is yet to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. The hastily implemented Goods and Services had caused inconvenience to businessmen and led to the closure of several establishments.)