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

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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.

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  1. kishor

    your ability to find negative in every positive program is amazing, keep it up. you will need it for at least next 5 years. as mr. modi will go strength to strength.

  2. Kamya

    If you find negative aspect in everything, then why swach bharat but nothing will ever be accomplished. The amount and resources that you have spent researching for the article, it would have been better if you would have conveyed the need for cleanliness to people like domestic helpers, security guards, for their lack of education and less resources to know about such campaigns cause the need that likes of us spread and educate people about such campaigns and raise awareness.

  3. Vineeta

    true that ., only preaching commercial cannot clean India.

    There are larger issues and innumerable problems. Even I have not been able to change my habit of keeping the neighborhood clean.

    What about people living on pavement
    What about street food
    Are there enough dustbins
    Are there enough spittoons
    Are there enough bathroom
    Changing habit will only happen if we have enough facilities and infrastrucure
    If we let industries to pollute our natural resource and then try to clean our water tanks clean.. its not going to take us anywhere

    1. hareesh

      Exactly! Spot fixing doesnt help. Its a good inspiration to start something on these line..true there are no trans cans or bathrooms..but with good thinkers like you they will be established once people realise that..and they will just like you and some others on here did. All this would not be possible if PM would not have started something smaller like cleaning a mere corner in a street. Thing is everyone should look beyond the headlines..instead of doing spot fixing think of how we can prevent it from happening again. After all prevention is better than cure 🙂

    2. r*

      it will take us somewhere…
      like always , you (one) can not just say that there are not enough dustbins, the industries produce much more waste and stuff n stuff .
      but when will u start doing your part ?
      not throwing a packet of chips on the road and cleaning your tanks, does make a difference…..

  4. Gourav Jain

    Okay. I think the campaign is all symbolic as of now. I don’t contradict the fact that its a good initiate but we need to take it seriously.

    Let me give an example:
    Modi cleaned that Ashram, some volunteers and safai karamcharis also did the same and later it was found that the waste was dumped near the ashram itself.

    So we should not be doing it the Indian way like just clean your area and dump the waste in someone else’s.

    The waste have to go to proper place for disposal and recycling. Once a waste is collected it must not end up in some other place.

    Going by the Modi example, one must see the grounds after speeches and rallies of Modi is over. Its literally a dustbin. I think our PM need to ask his volunteers to clean the premises wherever they arrange speeches and functions. That’s first.

    Second the Swach Bharat Abhiyan needs to be more than a photoshoot event or some social challenge campaign.

    I think the Swach Bharat campaign will only be possible if:
    â–  We maintain cleanliness in and around our place and that too without dumping our waste somewhere else.
    â–  Proper waste treatment plants are introduced.
    â–  Giving importance and providing better living conditions and life for our Safai Karamcharis.

  5. Bhuwan Pawar

    “स्वच्छ भारत अभियान” को हम उस आशा की जलती मोमबत्ती की तरह देखे जो कई बुझी मोमबत्तीयोको को प्रकाशित कर सकती हैं। आशा हैं असंतोष की आदि हमारी सिविल सोसाइटी इस बार अपना समय रोते और सोने मे नही गुजरेगी । जब मन में सफाई एक PM के आव्हान से बढ़कर एक जूनून बन जाएगी..तब ही देश अपने आप स्वच्छता की तरफ कदम बढाने लगेगा । इसीलिए आज हमे संकल्प करना होगा की देश को पूरी तरह से साफ़ करने के लिए हम उसकी छोटी इकाई के रूप में अपने कर्तव्य एव जिम्मेदारी से पीछे नही हटेंगे ।

  6. Ram Dev Maurya

    Har sapna sach karega India,banega swachh India

  7. Gururaj Rao

    Couldn’t you have said, “Mr. Modi, you have picked up a broom and made a start. Now how about taking the next step to prevent dumping of solid waste into rivers, teach common people to adopt hygienic practices, and so on. We will support you in cleaning up the entire environment.” Be a samajdar; be true to your name.

    1. Debamita Samajdar

      Actually it’s Samajd[w]ar as pronounced in Bengali.But thank you for the personal
      attack.The point you raise is quite valid from your perspective but as I lack the blind fervour towards Mr.Modi[For reasons more potent and rational than those which
      engender your support]I would still like to stick to my opinion.
      Feel free to point out factual errors ,if any,in the article.
      Thank you for the dialogue.
      Happy Diwali.

    2. JustIndian

      Pity on you…teach people..I traveled world and Indian People are most hated..i felt it while on world tour…you know the reason, indian people do not adapt, do not change…whatever rule a country apply they hardly follows.. just for example Singapore is the most cleanest, 3rd largest financial hub and have flogging and capital punishment.. You will see singapore all clean and people following rules, but once you enter “Little India” you will see the real mess, Indians running over, spitting everywhere making a mess. So it is not about where to dump but it is about learning how to maintain cleanliness. If you don;t belive my words go to thailand, sweden, russia, singapore and anywhere and see how Indians behave. I feel bad about it because i am indian. (now you will think how my comment relates to your post).. reason is instead criticizing modi..just criticize the people. I would have applauded Modi even if he just said only once “PEOPLE CLEAN YOUR HOUSE” that would have praiseworth.. but what to do you wanted some badges on your shirt, .. Do you know my friend, even the best person rule India still it won;t be a good country unless the people change.. I have less faith you would agree..but any common India loving person would surely do.

  8. Satyam Soni

    clean India green India Mr. Keep Up tup

  9. Geetha

    Sir I am very happy that someone has raised point to keep our city clean, but I would like to suggest that if there are washrooms on each road and if they are maintained well every one will be able to use it. Also keep dustbins on road sides so everyone uses it and we can avoid throwing water bottle, papers, cool drinks tin etc., on roads.

    1. sachit kant gautam

      But what about peoples mentality, the dustbin placed by municipalities are stolen by people like us and they use them at their home.
      From public toilets they steals soap, mugs etc. even they didn’t flush the toilet.
      And at railway stations you can see dustbins placed their but peoples throws water bottles, cold drinks cans etc on the track.
      So first of all We have to change our mentality.

  10. thez

    Im just thinking what initiatives did the author took for clean india

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