When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan or the Clean India Campaign was launched with so much fanfare in October 2014, we all had high expectations of it. We all hoped for cleaner streets, educational campuses, government offices, better garbage management, more toilets and a cleaner Ganga as a result of this. What is the two year report card for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan or the Clean India Campaign?
According to the Swachh Bharat website, thousands of pledges were taken, activities done and active participants involved, hundreds of challenges and pakhwada activities were undertaken with well over a million contributed hours. So, are the results plain to see in the two years since the launch of the Clean India Campaign?
The world’s holiest river has not lost its dubious tag of the world's filthiest river; far from it. There are no visible results of the crores that have been poured into the Ganga cleanup (click link to read more). The untreated sewage from towns along its banks, the pooja samagri, half incinerated dead bodies, clothing, idols, industrial waste and more continue to be added to the river.
In spite of government denials, the hateful and shameful reality of manual scavenging continues. Not a single programme for the eradication of manual scavenging or the rehabilitation of scavengers has taken off. The government may be building thousands of new toilets, but there are no systems in place for the cleaning of the septic tanks into which those toilets empty out. The modernisation of the sewage system is unfortunately not a priority in the Swachh Bharat campaign and it is an inescapable fact that open defecation continues in our cities and villages.
Mountains of garbage still greet anyone at the outskirts of a town or city, overflowing refuse bins can be seen on most streets and hideous trash mountains such as these continue to grow in most of our cities creating untold health risks with no solution in sight.
Implementation of policy is poor; many government agencies are not doing their jobs at all or are doing their jobs only on paper.
The message of the Clean Indian campaign has not filtered down to change mindsets. The average Indian continues to litter, urinate in public, spit wherever they want and is least bothered about garbage disposal, the cleaning of communities (having a clean house is all we’re bothered about), and sewage disposal.
The all important change in attitude is quite simply absent; we continue to offer any of these and many other excuses. The average Indian simply doesn’t see any benefit in not littering, spitting or defecating; in making the effort to separate their garbage or helping keep communities clean. For us, cleaning has always been someone else’s job.
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