Launched with a fanfare last year, the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan has come a cropper in the royal city, which has shockingly turned dirtier.
With no proper solid waste collection system, residents of Patiala — that was once known as city of gardens — are reeling under filth and foul smell. When the ‘clean India campaign’ was launched last year, city’s top-rung officials and politicians had exhibited a rare enthusiasm and made tall promises to make it litter-free. However, once the photo-op was over, no one came forward to put in real efforts to make the city clean.
While the administration has failed to generate funds and build a cleanliness plan, the politicians have not been able to motivate people to join the campaign.
The MC, on its part, flaunts its “long list of achievements” such as hiring 250 new safai sewaks on daily wages and a file claiming that every noon and cranny of the city is being cleaned, the ground reality, however, is totally different.
Civic body reels under cash crunch
While the MC is reeling under fund crunch, the Punjab government has failed to give it ample grants for the campaign.
On the other hand, the district administration’s drive, which was aimed at rural areas, has also suffered setbacks. Against the target to set up 3,000 toilets to built, only 200 have been made.
Similarly, the target of making 100 villages open-defecation free has also not been achieved.
“We have mobilised funds, but we need more public participation and timely execution of projects. People are getting aware of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and results will start showing in near future”, said additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Rajesh Tripathi.
Village panchayats say no extra funds were provided for executing the plans. “Some residents contributed money to start the campaign. However, they could maintain the momentum. What we need is a dedicated team of safai sewaks in villages”, says Jagtar Singh of Sanaur village. The campaign effect is visible in some schools where teachers and students joined hands to make their campuses clean.
Choked sewer lines major irritant
“We carried out a lot of cleanliness drives, but due to faulty and choked sewerage lines, all our efforts went down the drain. It’s a terrible to live in a walled city where sewers overflow and raise a stink”, says Dimple Kumari, a resident of B-Tank area.
The residents’ woes have been compounded in the absence of a solid waste treatment plant. For the past eight years, politicians have been making tall promises of providing a solution to this problem, but nothing has been done so far.
“The city is cleaner than the previous year. Due to untimely rains, some areas are witnessing problems. I personally ensure that roads and streets are cleaned and solid waste is collected on daily basis across the city”, claims mayor Amarinder Bajaj.
He, however, admitted that unless the civic body gets a solid waste management plant, things won’t really improve on cleanliness front.
“We are working on it and hopefully the project will be executed by next year”, he says, adding that the door-to- door collection of solid waste will start before the end of this year.
“The campaign has failed because of non-serious attitude of the ruling party politicians and administration. Citizens initially participated in the campaign. However, they soon realised the entire drive was nothing but a grand phot-op by the ruling party,” claims Congress leader Brahm Mohindra.
Theatre activist Pran Sabharwal says there is a dire need of serious efforts on part of everyone to ensure cleanliness in the city.
“We need serious efforts and liberal funds to make the project a hit. each one of us needs to understand our responsibility ,” he asserts.