Prime Minister Narendra Modi had walked on the Delhi streets, wielding a broom on October 2 last year. The PM wanted to bring about a change and wielded the broom to mark the start of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan — a social movement that would free the country of garbage, filth and help it embrace cleanliness.
Six months later, the mission lies abandoned in the capital. Garbage still dots the city’s roads, waste piles up near dhalaos and toilets are still inadequate in number. Since the launch of the national mission, Delhi has seen two administrations. While the former — led by L-G Najeeb Jung — took up Mission Cleanliness on a war footing, the current AAP government seems to have put on hold all sanitation-related activities.
Even though chief minister Arvind Kejriwal himself had brandished the broom to support the mission last year, his government has decided to wait for the Centre to pump in funds to get going on it.
“Under President’s Rule, the mission was taken up like a festival. Secretaries and senior officers were given daily responsibilities. There were surprise inspections and those found slacking were reprimanded. But such things can be continued only if they are institutionalised,” said a senior Delhi government official. While there was no budget allocated for daily mission-related work, departments were asked to draw up their individual plans on how they will bring about cleanliness with definite targets.
As a result, by November last year, 200 metric tonnes of garbage had been lifted by the South Municipal Corporation. It repaired 48 dhallaos, 173 urinals and 69 community toilets while registering 140 FIRs against violators. The directorate of education had planned to grade schools on 28 parameters of cleanliness and build toilets in 228 of them. At the same time, DSIDC informed the L-G that 92% malba had been removed from 18 industrial areas by the first week of November.
“The L-G would conduct regular review meetings which were attended by all secretaries, divisional commissioners and other officers. He himself went on surprise checks to schools, hospitals and revenue offices in November following which a deputy commissioner, two assistant engineers and two principals were suspended,” said an official. Work on the Swachhata Abhiyan, however, slowed down once the Assembly elections were announced in January. The new government took charge on February 18 and is yet to announce its plans for the mission.
While the Centre has allocated Rs 32 crore for building toilets in Delhi, there is a lot to be done on collection and disposal of household, commercial and construction waste, de-silting of drains, waste water management and cleaning the Yamuna. As of now, the government is only dealing with the issue of clearing garbage in parts the city by pacifying the municipal sanitation workers. “We have instructed the corporations to ensure that the funds meant for salaries of sanitation workers are not diverted. We do not care if the projects are stalled but the salaries have to be paid,” said Manish Sisodia.