Friday, 30 September 2016

The Dustbin Diaries

Recently, i have seen a lot of ads regarding a 12- hour cleanliness drive named Cleanathon which shall be conducted on the 2nd of October this year. A little search on the net revealed that it is an NDTV initiative and started in 2014 itself as an annual event to raise funds for creating awareness on the issue. While such events are appreciable and further the cause of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan, which is a very laudable campaign by the Government, there are certain aspects about sanitation in Indian context which are needed to be understood.

Cleanliness is an inherent virtue of any civilized society. We cannot agree less over the fact that once we step out of our homes, we don't he give a damn about what hygiene and sanitation. Most of our India roads are sprinkled with red-colour using natural colors such as pan and pan masala, by our very creative artists and they are in billions. Sometimes they even try to paint us when they spit while driving or sitting in a vehicle. Sadly, we don't recognise such creative talents for their contribution to arts.

We have great stories that we should be good towards our neighbours. And we are. We recognise this by presenting them with garbage and litter everyday right at their gates. Afterall a gift is a gift and no one can deny it!

Many a times, no, actually mostly, the highly educated ones too tend not to use the dustbins and instead litter the streets because even putting the waste stuff in the dustbins 5 metres away from them would make them seem uncool.

Our municipalities are not far away from contributing. Our cities are basically divided into islands of posh colonies of 'the rich and the powerful' and others. The latter is where you would see big mounds of garbage every few kms , being dumped in open. Maybe its a way to keep the economy running. If more people fall ill, more doctors , more medicines, more mosquito repellents and so on will be needed. The next Bharat Ratna or the Nobel should go to such municipalities for their contribution to the Indian economy.

The question arises what should we do for acknowledging such great deeds? There are laws to levy fines on people who litter. ( Lets not read the positively sounding word 'fine' in a negative connotation.) The quantum of fines should be increased. Our municipalities should realise that they can make earn a lot of money by levying such fines and can use the money to buy equipment. If its possible, the fines should be tracked via Aadhaar so that the quantum is increased with every such act by a person.

On the part of the people, the way out is to get together and start questioning by applying their constitutional rights that when we are paying taxes then why we are not getting a clean and healthy environment which is an essential part of the Right to Life. Civil society and NGOs have a very important role to play in such matters.

Among all this, what we have to develop is a feeling that cleanliness is a prerequisite for any progressive society. How can any one be happy if he has to deal with stench and the sites of hills of garbage as ventures through the city? How can one risk polythene packed with garbage bring thrown on him/her in the streets? How one bravely drives behind any vehicle with the threat of being pan-stained by someone else spitting pan? Lets put such people and such acts to shame! Lets create awareness

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