By Dr PRASHANT THAPLIYAL
In 1994, a pneumonic plague wreaked havoc in Surat causing mass exodus of around 200,000 people from there. The plague was caused by rats and it spread rapidly and was controlled ultimately by a massive sanitisation drive and antibiotic therapy that included vast use of tetracycline. In 1995, SR Rao was appointed the Municipal Commissioner of the city and through his administrative acumen, mass sensitisation and punitive measures the city was cleaned and became the second cleanest city in India then. Surat is the fastest growing city in the world and was ranked second in the cleanliness survey last quarter. Crux of the story is that sanitisation has become a part of Surat residents’ lifestyle because they realised that lack of cleanliness could kill them and they are now trying to establish balance between development and cleanliness.
Indore ranks first in the cleanliness survey because the residents there have also been sensitised enough in this regard and they feel that it is their duty to keep it clean and motivate others to do so. The role of NGOs, private companies, political will and mutual trust between municipal body and people are also praiseworthy in this venture. Moreover, the Municipal Corporation is also doing novel service for the cleanliness cause as it developed a system for 100% collection of waste from the households, out of which almost 95% gets segregated at source in terms of wet and dry waste. Dry waste is sent to the recycling plants and wet waste is used for composting and production of energy. The crux is that political will and administrative support with sensitisation, reward and punitive modes can inculcate good habits in the masses.
To win the war against the corona virus, we require strong political will, huge sensitisation drives, large scale philanthropic programmes, development of emotional strength and instilling awareness of health and hygiene in masses. A fine balance between nature and development and adoption of natural techniques of survival as taught by our ancestors is the need of the hour. Nature worship and adoration in terms of rivers as life savers, Shiva as creator, Peepal tree (great source of oxygen) which is also capable of releasing oxygen at night through CAM pathway of photosynthesis (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) when they are in epiphytic state (plants that live on other plants), basil (Tulsi) which has medicinal and immunity booster agents, were given utmost importance in the past and followed till date with aberrations due to selfish motives. The time is ripe for bolstering relationship between nature and humanity. Nature’s worship in terms of adopting natural practices and conserving its resources should become part of our life in letter and spirit now. It will not only help in warding off diseases which often bother us, it will make us overall healthy human beings ultimately enhancing our physical, emotional and academic health and it will become a rich repository of society.
(Dr PrashantThapliyal is Assistant Professor, Army Cadet College, Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.)