A year after the Swachh Bharat Abiyan (SWA) was launched amid much fanfare, with politicians sweeping streets while posing for the camera, Dharamsala, the small hill town tucked in the scenic Kangra valley with the mighty Dhauladhar mountains, is far from achieving complete cleanliness.
Set to be a Smart City and a municipal corporation (MC), the authorities here have a lot on the cards - a comprehensive strategy for achieving the goal set in independent India’s most ambitious civic programme - but these plans are yet to take off.
While some impact was visible in the main market of the hill town, which is cleaner than before, the backyard of the suburbs continue to be garbage-dumping sites.
Hardly any tangible change is visible as the local MC continues to struggle with shortage of workforce as well as funds.
The unruly behaviour of domestic tourists, who litter openly, is also a major problem which the authorities are finding hard to tackle.
Dharamsala MC president Kamla Patyal says the problem in country like India is that people want the authorities to do everything. “Unless the people come forward and assist the authorities in keeping the town clean the situation will not improve. The tourists and the locals need to change their mentality. The MC is doing everything it can,” she said.
Meanwhile, MC’s executive officer Chaman Lal says the civic body has a comprehensive plan ready for the cleanliness campaign to achieve what was being desired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Experts of Avantha Foundation, set up under corporate social responsibility (CSR) by the Avantha Group, with whom the Himachal Pradesh government’s urban development department has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), are working on implementation of the plan, he adds.
Pratham Jain, a consultant with the Avantha Foundation, says the solid waste management plan for the city is formulated keeping in view the hilly terrain.
“It includes segregation at source and introduction of underground garbage bins for collecting solid waste,” says Jain. “Dharamsala will become a model for the rest of the state and even the country in solid waste management,” he adds.
Besides, community-led management of solid waste, waste-to-value through maximising recycling and scientific landfill were some key elements included in the plan.
“Given the small quantity of garbage being generated in Dharamshala per day, setting up a solid waste treatment plant was is a viable option. Hence, we decided to go for a cluster approach,” Jain adds.
A cluster of six towns has been formed which includes Dharamshala, Kangra, Palampur, Nagrota, Dehra and Jwalaji, Jain says, and a plant will be set up at a centrally-located position for treatment of waste produced in the six towns.
Since, the long term plan will take a while for implementation, currently a fortnight-long cleanliness campaign in all localities of the Municipal Council area.
“Such campaigns cannot succeed without community participation,” says Jain, adding that the drive currently underway in the town is focused at creating awareness among the public and assuring their involvment.
A team, including civic experts, municipal officials, councilors and safai karamcharis, move in a particular locality every day, meet local residents, making them aware about segregation of waste and correct methods of dumping while also carrying out the cleanliness drive.
“We are also engaging self-help groups (SHGs), NGOs and even foreigners who visit the town in the cleanliness drive, “ says Jain.
Regarding the bid to eliminate open defecation, the MC has invited applications from the residents who don’t have toilets in their houses. The applications have been received and are under process.
Meanwhile, Tibetan settlement officer Sonam Dorjee, whose office looks after the sanitation and cleanliness of the McLeodganj suburb under the Clean Upper Dharamsala campaign, says the Swachh Bharat Campaign has so far failed to leave a mark.
“The sanitation infrastructure needs to be improved. Neither do I see any change in the attitude of the locals nor the tourists. Public cooperation is the msot important factor,” Dorjee says.
Dharamsala, Kangra, Palampur, Nagrota, Dehra, Jwalaji, news, hindustantimes