Swachh Bharat: Sorry, Bapu... we couldn’t clean up

Launched on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) had a high-octane start with none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi wielding the broom for a filth-free India and tagging nine celebrities, urging them to take the work forward.

punjab Updated: Oct 02, 2015 11:38 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary last year, had a high-octane start with Prime Minister Narendra Modi wielding the broom for a filth-free India and tagging celebrities to take the work forward.

The nationwide campaign, a laudable initiative of considerable significance, saw many VIPs picking up brooms across the country. But a year on, the Clean India Mission has failed to generate momentum in northern states despite Modi’s personal push.

Hindustan Times reporters travelled to several cities of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh for a reality check and found the authorities and government agencies are struggling to get their act together or have shown complete indifference thus far, placing the onus on citizens.

Also read: One year on, PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat drive fails to leave a mark

To make matters worse, the campaign has been hobbled by a shortage of funds though the Centre is trying to find ways to raise resources for the mammoth programme, including a proposed cess on fuel and services.

No doubt, there is greater public awareness and people have become fastidious about cleanliness.

But the motivation required among citizens and officials for a campaign of this magnitude is sorely missing.

If the government is serious about the goal of making India filth-free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, it will have to work at full throttle, backing its plans with a time-bound campaign -- not a mishmash of measures -- in mission mode.

Beginning today, Hindustan Times will over the next week look at government plans, possibilities and problems in the three northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and run a reality check on cleanliness in select cities.

Read: Swachh Bharat: Cleanliness is an individual, not govt, initiative

Read: Tourists, migrant workers challenges for Himachal Pradesh

Read: Swachh Haryana? Why it’s just not happening

First Published: Oct 02, 2015 10:24 IST