National Capital Delhi might harbour dreams of becoming a world class city, but the ground reality is the city’s streets smell of muck.
However, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat Abhiyan now underway, the situation might change provided Delhi pays attention to certain aspects
From recycling piles of garbage in colonies to reviving the Yamuna that is now a sewage dump, government, civic agencies and residents will have to work together bit by bit to realise the dream of a clean Delhi. The effort is going to take more than wielding brooms on national holidays.
Delhi produces nearly 9,000 tonnes of waste daily. While some estimates say about 10% of it goes onto the streets, the rest is collected at local dhalaos, which end up at the three landfill sites that are pretty much saturated now. These structures can often hold much less than the amount of garbage fed into them. As a result, garbage remains strewn on the roads.
People disposing waste on their own don’t even bother to walk up to the dumping site and keep adding to the pile mounting up on the roads. There are nearly 2,500 dhalaos in the city and the crooked bins placed in front add to the offensiveness of the picture. Safdarjung Enclave, Vasant Kunj, Hauz Khas, New Friends Colony — they are everywhere. Daily clearing of dhalaos is something that the civic bodies have not been able to accomplish.
“Segregating and recycling waste is a solution. Recycling can take care of 70-75% waste. So we need to have decentralised models, which mean having composting plants within every ward. The municipalities should provide the support price to small composters,” said Bharti Chaturvedi, an activist.
Uncovered drains/Uncleared silt
While covering of storm water drains still remains a debatable issue, local drains — without lids — in various parts of the city are quite an eyesore.
The lids covering drains are often stolen; thereby exposing them to reckless garbage dumping. The problem is worse in unauthorised colonies where drains run along the length of every house. “These drains carry waste water from the houses,” said Shanti Gupta, a resident of Tughlakabad Extension.
“Another problem crops up when these drains are de-silted. The black sticky refuse is kept in small piles outside the drain. We have to wait for days for the civic agencies to clean it. It is nauseous,” said Karn Raj, a resident of Karkardooma.
Littering/Urinating in Public
In the US, throwing an empty wrapper on a road can invite a fine of up to $1,000. The offenders are often nabbed with the help of CCTV cameras.
Back home in India, however, people defecate openly and nobody raises an eyebrow. Littering, taking a leak in the public, spitting is a part of public life in the Capital. Lack of dustbins and free, clean toilets at approachable distances may be a reason why people are tempted to falter.
Another factor to blame is the level of awareness and sense of responsibility among people. Despite several initiatives, municipal agencies have not been able to fine individual offenders. “There are sanitation inspectors who penalise vendors, shopkeepers and residents for a variety of offences. But going after random offenders on a busy street doesn’t happen,” said an official. There is a provision of fine the minimum of which is `50 and can go up to `5,000. But nobody cares or is cared. Residents have, in fact, become so bold that they can be even spotted urinating close to the PM’s residence.
An unclean Yamuna has been one of the biggest challenges for the Capital. Two decades and `6,500 crore later, authorities have failed to revive the Yamuna if not made matters worse. Sewage water from the Capital’s 22 drains flows into it but no agency has yet been able to sort out the problem. There is not a drop of water from the original source for most part of the year. What flows along the river’s 22 kilometres, therefore, is the waste drained out of toilets of nearly 30 lakh households in the city. Experts blame multiplicity of authorities for the failure of all plans and programmes drawn up so far for cleaning the river.
With water resources Minister Uma Bharti pledging to clean Yamuna, the Centre may assume a greater role in rejuvenating the river.
It may, though, take much longer than the deadline of 2019 set by Modi for a clean India.