Delhi garbage crisis: Clean city of its litterbugs

  • Shashank Shekhar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 03, 2015 14:00 IST

Despite spending crores, the Capital is yet to rein in its ‘Kooda Kumars, Thu Thu Kumars and Su Su Kumars’.

The three characters were envisioned in a public sanitation campaign launched by the city civic agencies in 2009, ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The campaign targeted litterbugs (Kooda Kumar), spitting in the open (Thu Thu Kumars) and urinating in public (Su Su Kumars).

But no amount of effort seems enough to stop the three ‘Kumars’ from running riot in the city. Residents use the city like a huge dustbin and leave garbage in the open without thinking twice.

City’s dirty roads, parks, markets, monuments bear testimony to the pathetic civic sense of its residents. This indifference remains the enemy number one for basic sanitation in the city.

The municipal corporations spend an estimated Rs 2,000 to remove one tonne of garbage and take them to landfill sites. They further pay Rs 1,000 for mechanically sweeping each kilometre of city roads. But even with a massive manpower of 60,000 and a sweeper for every 3,000 square metres of the city space, the civic agencies have failed to keep the city litter free.

Sanitation workers complain that no matter how much they clean public spaces, residents do nothing to maintain cleanliness. “During the recent cleanliness drives we swept the roads thrice a day but still they remained dirty. People litter at will. Even if there is a dustbin nearby, they still prefer to throw waste on the road,” said Munna Lal, a sanitation worker.

A sanitation supervisor said people don’t throw waste inside metro stations because they are afraid of being fined. There are similar laws for other public places too but officials say that fines are meagre and are hardly imposed. A proposed amendment to the law to raise the fine amount from the existing Rs 500 — for littering, urinating and spitting in public places — is pending.

Residents, on the other hand, blame the civic agencies for the mess. They say littering cannot be stopped unless the agencies install adequate number of dustbins at all places.

“Just cleaning the garbage stations will not help. If we want people to stop littering, we have to provide dustbins. In most foreign countries, one can find dustbins every 500 metres. Same is the case with public toilets. We need provision of basic infrastructure,” said Sanket Mishra, a Vasant Kunj resident.

Fancy dustbins that were installed on the roads ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games are lying in utter ruin. Officials said the police stopped them from putting up more such bins because they were used to trigger blasts in the city in 2009.

“We are installing small dustbins in parks. We have taken permission from the Delhi police and have asked market associations to install plastic bins. We make sure that they are cleaned daily,” said Mukesh Yadav, director, press and information, South Corporation.

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