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When the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign was launched by our Prime Minister to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure across India, several skeptics claimed that this campaign was just a case of “old wine in a new bottle”. Prior to this, the Government of India has introduced several schemes like the Total Sanitation Campaign and Nirmal Bharath Abhiyaan which failed to make a dent in India’s sanitation status.
But, unlike the previous Government’s schemes, one thing that cannot be disputed is that by aligning himself to the Swachh Bharat Campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has managed to highlight the issue of sanitation and put it on the National Agenda!
How do we ensure that Swachh Bharat does not lose its momentum? We have seen that merely building toilets is not the solution. We need end-to-end solutions. If we are serious about having a clean India, there must be a ‘behaviour change’ not only among people but within the local governments too. While a strong Centre can be effective in imposing deadlines to deliver on this scheme, there must be a strong leadership and active citizen participation at the State and grass roots level.
Malleshwaram, a constituency of Bangalore has set a good example in implementing this initiative. Within a year of launching its own Smart Swachh Malleswaram under the leadership of MLA Dr. Ashwathnarayan, this area has been declared black spot free. Today, the campaign combines dedicated volunteering efforts with technology based app to help people register complaints for immediate action. To provide an end to end solution for solid waste management, this area has adopted a multi-prong approach by setting up Dry waste Collection Centres in all its wards, an Organic Waste Compost to handle wet waste and a bio gas plant that provides electricity to over fifty street lights. The door-to-door pick up of garbage is integrated with block-wise smart collection and transport to a single lorry point to ensure that no garbage is dumped on the ground. Along with the Solid Waste Program the existing thirty six public toilets have been refurbished and twenty five more toilets are planned this year.
After the Black Spot has been removed
This just goes to show that an ambitious National Agenda like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan can succeed as long as there is strong leadership at the Centre and the local government level to mobilize the community!