Swachh Bharat is a noble venture initiated by the Government of India. Crores of rupees have been allocated by the Government for this important cause. The Swachh Bharat tax has also been levied on services as well as goods. But do we follow the mission with heart and soul to make it a success? Unless we change our attitude, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will never ever be successful.
A few days back, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu unveiled a survey report of the Quality Council of India against the ranking of clean cities. Almost all the capital cities, except Gangtok in NE India, fall under the category of dirty cities and Guwahati�s position has fallen from 50 in 2016 to 134. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself expressed his unhappiness in this regard as the NE is considered as the corridor of South East Asia and Guwahati is the nerve centre of NE India. Tourists and diplomats from different countries of South East Asia and other parts of the world are expected to visit Guwahati in the near future.
But what do we see around us every day? The so-called educated people come out for morning walks with their pets and get their pets defecate by the roadside. Some people even spit in the middle of the road and urinate in full public view. The roads are in a poor shape, the manholes are uncovered, vendors occupy footpaths and the roadsides, keeping no space for pedestrians, and the dustbins are spilling.
The premises of different offices, banks, institutions, bus stands and railway stations are littered with garbage, waste paper, etc. On the roadside, one can see completely exposed dustbins. The whole Brahmaputra bank in the city is used for defecation or urination. Lawmakers, ministers, officers and bureaucrats are well aware of all this, but maintain a stoic silence. Either they do not notice it or they deliberately avoid it. Everybody�s business is nobody�s business. On the other hand, we, the common people, are not at all conscious and sincere.
We think that cleanliness is the word to be strictly followed in our own homes and we forget everything the moment we come out of our homes. How can Guwahati become a smart city in such a scenario?
It may be mentioned in this context that Indian-origin Nobel laureate in literature Sir VS Naipaul has written somewhere in his book, An Area of Darkness, published in 1964, that �Indians defecate everywhere. They defecate mostly beside the railway tracks, they also defecate on beaches, they defecate on the banks of rivers, they defecate on streets.� Naipaul�s writings are still relevant to an extent in the 21st century too.
Given such a scenario, it is deemed desirable to put forward a few suggestions to the Government so that these can be implemented on a priority basis:
1. All the footpaths in the city should be cleared for pedestrians by evicting the vendors. Let there be agitation by the vendors and the Government should not pay any attention to such agitations because these are public places and not the places for vendors to do their business.
2. The footpaths should be repaired. It should also be ensured that no manholes and portions of footpaths are left uncovered.
3. The GMC should place covered dustbins in every 50-metre distance. The cleaning of dustbins and roads should be done early in the morning.
4. In hospitals, the Government should consider appointing qualified personnel having hospital management degrees/diplomas and creating a separate department for maintaining total cleanliness in these places.
5. At the same time, in other government institutions and offices, there should be a separate wing with trained manpower for maintaining cleanliness.
6. Hotels and restaurants should also be brought under such rules and regulations. The kitchens of restaurants should be made visible to customers so that they can see the cleanliness maintained by the restaurant managements. It should also be made mandatory on the part of food inspectors to visit these places once a week and take action for any sort of wrongdoing.
7. There should be a sufficient number of paid public toilets on the roadside, in hospitals, colleges, offices, etc.
It is a fact that the Indians cannot be motivated by giving calls, wall writings, posters, lectures, street plays or advertisements, particularly with regard to cleanliness.
Public places, hospitals, medical colleges, institutions, government offices, etc., should be brought under CCTV camera surveillance and the strict supervision of the police. Whenever a person is found involved in any foul play, he or she should be immediately caught and fined. If needed, the Government should frame rules and empower the police to catch such people.