Mr. Modi, Bharat Can’t Be ‘Swachh’ With Just Sweeping And Cleaning

Posted on October 15, 2014 in Politics

By Debamita Samajdar:

Vapi – This one word is good enough to denigrate the Prime Minister’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ campaign. This industrial city, a regular inclusion in the list of India’s most polluted sights, has come to denote much that was rotten with the over-hyped Gujarat ‘model’.

swachh bharat abhiyan

For Modi, who has declared that cleanliness is his highest priority, it is ironical that a moratorium (Prohibition on opening new industries and/or increasing the production capacity of the existing ones) that the M.O.E.F.C.C (then M.O.E.F.) had issued on January 13, 2010 for 43 of India’s most “critically polluted clusters”, has been lifted in the case of 8 of these clusters with the coming of this new government. The aforementioned list is the one that Vapi, in Gujarat, has come to top many a times.

The track record of Modi in this field is as follows:-

2007 – Nirmal Gujarat Campaign was launched
2009 – Ankleswar’s Industrial Area tops the list of “critically polluted areas” of India.
2011 and 2013 – Vapi Industrial Area tops this list
2014 – Swachh Abhiyan Campaign launched.

So, evidently, the question arises as to whether all this hullabaloo is just symbolism or eye wash, as the Congress is claiming it to be (with vehement support from the Left Front). This campaign, apart from being a photo-op for the Netas and the Babus, is also a platform for film-stars whose broom-in-hand pictures could do wonders for their careers. It’s actually a diversionary tactic to veil the ground reality of rising prices, the recent train fare and freight rates hike, and also the row involving the pharmaceutical sector over the de-regulation of many medicines which albeit non-essential (as per WHO standards), remain beyond the affordable reach of many people.

In view of these circumstances, even the most staunch Modi supporter would argue in favour of the futility of such campaigns when the single most important factor of ‘habit’ yet remains to be acknowledged, even with the removal of all physical impediments to cleanliness. A large majority of the population habituated with unhygienic practices which have roots in centuries old customs still continue to revel in the prospect of celebrating a Kumbh Mela without the slightest notion of how it is instrumental to the beginning of the self destructive cycle that people dependent on the Ganges water lead themselves to, apart from the everyday acts of open defecation, urination, bathing, cleaning clothes, dumping household garbage et al into these ‘sacred’ waters.

No amount of over enthusiastic BJP youth brigade could make any difference to the scenario while India still fails to grasp the concept of hygiene, nor has any access to the basic amenities required to maintain such. The rich too enjoy the luxury of self indulgence in dirty habits of a different kind.

What, then, is the point of just taking a pile of garbage from one place and dumping it into another?

Is mere sweeping and cleaning the very essence of cleanliness?

It would imply so if the P.C.I’s report is taken into consideration, which states that in 128 cities, except for street sweeping and transportation, compliance to the NSW rules 2000 was less than 50%; in respect of disposal compliance, it was a dismal 14%.

And who could guess the worst offender among the states as regards the implementation of these rules – none other than Gujarat!

The quintessential communist leader as usual suspects a propaganda behind this circus put on by Modi, the fickle minded campaigns acting as a smoke screen to the failure of the government to fulfil any of it’s populist promises made in the pre election days. One couldn’t deny the possibility of the claim being true as the slogans of ‘Abki baar double speak sarkaar’ have already made their way into social platforms. But the Left Front’s fear of the cleanliness drive being an excuse to rid India of it’s slums for a spick-and-span international image of India might be a bit too far fetched, if not completely improbable, as Indians usually forget the fact that poverty is related to, but is not synonym with, squalor.

What lets down the conscientious public is the presence of a face like that of Aamir Khan who should have known better after having dedicated an entire episode of his show ‘Satyameva Jayate’ on the problems of waste management in India.

If the current 62 million tonnes annual generation of waste continues to be dumped without treatment, it will need 3,40,000 cubic metre of landfill space everyday (1240 hectares per year). Considering the projected waste generation of 165 million tons by 2031, the requirement of land for setting up landfill for 20 years (Considering 10 metre high waste pile) could be as high as 66000 hectares of precious land. The reality is best seen in Ahmedabad at illegal the solid waste dumping site called ‘Gyaspur-Pirana dumping site’, a waste mountain near Sabarmati River adjacent to the main road. Report of the task force on Waste to Energy dated 12th May 2014 by the P.C.I-

“As per CPCB report 2012-2013, municipal areas in the country generate 133,760 metric tons per day of NSW, of which 91,152 TPD waste is collected and 25,884 TPD treated”. This waste generation figure covers only 31.15% population of India.

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle -3 simple words are to be instilled in the minds of the ccitizens for India to foster in an era of true cleanliness. To harvest alternative sources of energy, to manage urban waste, to ensure standard living conditions for all and sundry and to make the ‘Safai Karamcharis’ do their jobs (so that others don’t have to yield the broom) should be the Government’s sole aim rather than to put up a show in the future.