Swachh Bharat? Will the PM or the President take the trouble of finding out where the cellophane wrap went?

modi3Well, that is the first thought that should occur to anyone who believes in the Swachh Bharat Mission, on seeing this picture. When the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Swachh Bharat Mission) was launched on 2 October last year, organizations like Saahas and individuals like me welcomed the move, believing that things would finally look up on the issue of solid waste management.

India needs inspirational leaders on several fronts, especially so on the issue of cleanliness and civic discipline, so that these issues evolve into mass movements. Willing followers, led by consistent leaders become torch bearers and lead a nation to change.

Ideally, the SBM would mean a path to “Zero Waste”. Practically though, Swachh Bharat Mission must include the system and infrastructure to direct ‘waste’ material to the right place, NOT to a landfill. The administration must set up or enable the required infrastructure in urban wards and in rural blocks and panchayats. Towards this end, SBM needs to define and encourage best practices like source segregation, composting and recycling. Implementation of these practices will lead to a win-win situation with maximum recovery and minimum landfill.

We need leaders who will ask and answer such questions:

  • Does the SBM Swachh Bharat Mission include details of how to recycle materials and dispose of waste responsibly?
  • Are we simply sweeping things out of sight / under the carpet / into drainage channels / on to landfills?
  • Where should an item be deposited after it has lived its useful life?

Again, it is the administration that must set up or enable the required infrastructure in urban wards and in rural blocks and panchayats. Best practices are already being followed by tiny communities hoping to create an impact, but these must be scaled . Unless we the people, led by our ward level leaders, MLAs and MPs focus on recycling,examine the after-life of garbage, and commit ourselves to the Zero Waste path, it is difficult to ensure purposeful action.

SBM should not remain a mere slogan. Neither should it remain a Government-funded scheme. Swachh Bharat Mission should be a people’s movement, with impetus from people power, but certainly facilitated by the bureaucracy.

(To answer the query posed with the picture, the best practice would be to avoid such unsustainable wraps).

Swarna Lata,

A concerned and responsible citizen who believes in ”jAgO, nAgarik, jAgO’

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