Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, cherished a dream – to build an independent nation that would be built on cleanliness and hygiene. Reminding Indians of this dream, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a campaign in October 2014, targeted at enlisting the help of all India’s citizens in keeping the country clean. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is the nation’s biggest cleanliness drive till date. Students, government officials, social groups and organizations, and people from all over the country were seen participating in the launch event.
The campaign is being managed by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and is integrated into almost all walks of public life, including education and public offices. Since its launch, a number of cleanliness campaigns have been undertaken by schools and colleges, government offices, and private organizations. Celebrity endorsement and media attention have made it one of the most popular campaigns undertaken by the Government of India. The government has allocated a budget of about 3625 crore for the mission for the FY 2015-16.
Delhi has a waste management crisis. In 2014, Delhi became the second most populous city in the world with a population of about 25 million people. Given its population and the cramped living conditions of the growing lower income group populace, hygiene is another issue in focus. The capital’s waste management system is outdated and riddled with bureaucratic lag. In June 2015, when about 12,000 safai karmachari or sanitation workers went on strike for about 12 days, over 20,000 tonnes of waste piled up on the city roads. Rotting garbage became the striking feature of most residential localities. India’s capital is infamous for being one of the most polluted cities of the world apart from lacking basic cleanliness and hygiene systems in many parts.
Swachh Delhi Abhiyan
In keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal launched the Swachh Delhi Abhiyan, a mission to clean up the capital city of India. The mission launched by the Union Minister for urban Development, Mr. M Venhaiyah Naidu, is meant to last between 22 November and 30 November, 2015. Mr. Naidu handed the Delhi Government a cheque of INR 96.70 crore as part of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and also announced a INR 1500 crore package for the capital city to be directed towards decongestion of arterial roads, and for construction of flyovers and underpasses. The campaign is the first of its kind in which a state government has taken initiative to take the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan forward. The key objective of the mission is to make Delhi a garbage free, hygienic city.
Swachh Delhi App – Harnessing Technology
Taking advantage of the new advances in mobile technology and the proliferation of mobile devices, Mr Kejriwal has launched a mobile application called the Swachh Delhi app to empower the people of Delhi in actively participating in the programme. People in Delhi can now take pictures of garbage dumped at inappropriate places, construction wastes, and of places that need to be cleaned up. Once these pictures are uploaded to the mobile application and geo-tagged, the municipal corporation will set about cleaning it up. On the first two days of its launch, about 13,000 complaints were received through the application. The municipal authorities have promised to attend to any complaint received within 24 hours. Some technical snag has been reported and incorrect geo-tagging is still an issue. It seems that a number of the photos uploaded seem to have come from one particular number. The application does not seem to have been tested extensively. Despite this, it is likely that the application holds immense potential.
Will Swachh Delhi Last?
Officially, the Swachh Delhi Abhiyan was scheduled between 22 November 2015 and 30 November 2015. Is this short time frame enough to clean up the capital city? Does the very length of the campaign demean its importance? Will the citizens of Delhi take cleanliness seriously and adopt it as a lifestyle rather than a week-long measure? While these questions are certainly poignant ones, Delhi government believes that this weeklong abhiyan was merely to raise awareness about the need for active participation by the people of Delhi in keeping the city garbage free and clean. The municipal corporation has enough work maintaining the cleanliness of the areas which received most complains through the app, Delhi authorities seem to believe.
Apart from cleaning up the capital city and providing residents a much needed hygienic environment, one of the best outcomes of the Swachh Delhi Abhiyan is the coming together of arch political rivals, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi and leader of the AAP, decided to participate actively in the Swachh Bharat mission, a flagship campaign of the BJP-led central government. Taking his proactive engagement to a different level, Mr. Kejriwal invited leading BJP politician, M Venkiah Naidu, in his capacity as the Union Minister for Urban Development to launch the campaign. The Kejriwal-led Delhi government has also tied up with the municipal corporations of the capital city (which are ruled by BJP) in effecting this cleanliness drive. The municipal corporations shall remove garbage but heavy duty concrete waste removal work is now the government’s prerogative. Whatever the political dynamics, it is clear that such a synergy will work only for the benefit of Delhi and its people.
Other Cities on a Cleanup Mission
A number of other major Indian cities have actively participated in NaMo’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. According to data released by the central government in 2014, 476 cities of the country were ranked in a Cleanliness Index. India’s top 10 clean cities include –
- Mysore (Karnataka)
- Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu)
- Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra)
- Kochi (Kerala)
- Hassan (Karnataka)
- Mandya (Karnataka)
- Bengaluru (Karnataka)
- Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala)
- Halisahar (West Bengal)
- Gangtok (Sikkim)
Delhi is still far from entering the top clean cities ranking but it is expected that with the MCD and the PWD of the city keeping up the good work initiated by the Swachh Delhi campaign, the residents of the city can see a huge change in the cleanliness and hygiene conditions of the capital.