3 years of swachh drive: Activists say people’s role key to sweeping success | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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3 years of swachh drive: Activists say people’s role key to sweeping success

With the Swachh Bharat Mission completing three years on October 2, activists called for taking the campaign beyond tokenism in the hill state by ensuring effective citizen engagement at the ground level

dehradun Updated: Oct 01, 2017 20:17 IST
Neha Pant
Volunteers of Making A Difference by Being The Difference clean up the Parade Ground on Sunday, a day after it was left with heaps of litter on Dussehra.
Volunteers of Making A Difference by Being The Difference clean up the Parade Ground on Sunday, a day after it was left with heaps of litter on Dussehra. (HT Photo)

With the Swachh Bharat Mission completing three years on October 2, activists called for taking the campaign beyond tokenism in the hill state by ensuring effective citizen engagement at the ground level.

None of the seven participating cities of Uttarakhand had figured among the top 200 in this year’s nationwide cleanliness survey, Swachh Survekshan 2017, raising demands for an active partnership between the government and citizens towards achieving an effective solid waste management.

Abhijay Negi, the founding president of youth activist group, Making A Difference By Being The Difference (MAD), said that though the Swachh Bharat Mission, being a pet project of the Prime Minister, has had its own appeal and impact, lack of sanitation was a “systemic issue in society that is entrenched deep in our psyche and mentality.”

“Citizen engagement from every tier of the system – especially from district magistrates and civic body heads -- regularly and in a credible fashion can have a more far-reaching impact than annual rhetorical appeals from the PM or the CM on October 2,” Negi said.

MAD volunteers have been holding weekly cleanliness drives since the organisation’s inception in 2011.

Underlining apathy on the part of officials and citizens, activists emphasised that public participation was the cornerstone for the success of the mission.

“The government should create an ecosystem of interface between authorities and the citizens, which should neither be episodic nor sporadic but consistent in its approach,” said Anoop Nautiyal, founder of Dehradun-based Gati Foundation, a research, policy and advocacy think-tank.

Mahesh Bhandari, president of Doon Resident Welfare Front -- an umbrella body of resident welfare associations of the city -- said the mission’s spirit was in the right place, but much remained to be done in terms of its implementation.

“For most netas, it (the mission) has been more about getting clicked with brooms and less about genuine efforts. Similarly, many among the citizens, too, do not take it seriously. The government should try to connect it with employment opportunities and provide incentives to make the cleanliness mission result-oriented,” Bhandari said. “Dedicated youth brigades should also be created in schools and colleges for cleanliness.”

Urban development minister Madan Kaushik said the cleanliness efforts launched by his government had been identified by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs as the “best practices”.

“These include steps like announcing incentives for top three local bodies that will finish among the top 50 cities (in the 2018 cleanliness survey) with Rs 75 lakh, Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively, passing of an anti-littering act and making district magistrates responsible for monitoring sanitation efforts,” Kaushik said.

For the first time, officials’ efforts towards achieving mission targets have also been linked with their annual appraisal process, he added.

CM calls for public participation

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat urged people on Sunday to dedicate “a day once a week” to cleaning their surroundings. “We (the government) have started the cleanliness campaign but the public, too, will have to share the responsibility,” he said.