Creating Clean India
Creating Clean India, It is a strange paradox this. Urbanisation is the new Utopia. Suddenly, everyone from the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers to celebrities from diverse fields seems to be shrieking Eureka.
It is a strange paradox this. Urbanisation is the new Utopia. Suddenly, everyone from the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers to celebrities from diverse fields seems to be shrieking Eureka. In a rare irony, they all have ‘discovered’ the importance of words like cleanliness and hygiene as a societal collectivism, a moral responsibility that can be achieved by a scientifically-evolved sanitation programme and a relentless cleanliness drive. They forget that the Father of the Nation staunchly advocated these very principles and had exhorted every person to make conscious efforts to ensure healthy surroundings as a nation-building exercise. Six decades later, the country remains in the throes of eco-imbalance, thanks to man-made disasters in the name of industrial development at the cost of abusing Nature’s bountiful, a sure shot recipe for catastrophes.
One should give it to Narendra Modi for having revisited the importance of sanitation as a measure of true urbanisation and India’s rise as an economic superpower. The clarion calls by the Mahatma and Modi, notwithstanding, Hyderabadis will hopefully come out of their slumber following the successful conduct of the XI World Metropolis Congress (themed ‘Cities for All’) that attracted Mayors from across the continents. Not surprisingly, they all dwelt on the importance of creating clean cities to be considered smart cities. Pranab Mukherjee and APJ Abdul Kalam underscored the importance of going about creating smart cities, and touched the soul of the matter. If President Mukherjee saw effective processing of waste material and ensuring equitable distribution of basic infrastructure and amenities as the way out, Kalam opened up about his dream of seeing carbon-free Indian cities that could be made possible by carbon-neutral and fossil-free urban conglomerates. The message was loud and clear – green zones and zero-tolerance towards pollution is integral to urban planning and healthier living standards. Chandrasekhar Rao was not far behind while reassuring that he would make Hyderabad a slum-free city. In tune with the topic, everyone eulogised smart cities but none called for having smart towns and villages. What remains to be seen is how one goes about the implementation part, considering that the challenges are enormous. First and foremost, it is the common man who has to be brainwashed into this culture as a majority of the populace dumps waste at the first available spot, oblivious of the corresponding health hazards. Unless this mindset changes dramatically, no amount of measures will bear fruit. Not long ago Chandrababu Naidu had championed the cause of public toilets. Despite improved sanitation and myriad awareness programmes, open defecation remains the bane. Perhaps, lessons have to be learnt from the West where such filthy practices warrant criminal action. A sanitation programme that also addresses related environmental issues like potable water is the need of the hour if one were to make a meaningful reality of Swachh Bharat Mission. After all, like charity, even cleanliness begins at home.