By Air Marshal (retd) B.D.Jayal
As part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme that was launched in 2014; each year, cities and towns across India are awarded the title of ‘Swachh Cities’ on the basis of an annual ‘Swachh Survekshan’ survey.
In 2018, Dehra Dun ranked 257 out of a total of 417 cities surveyed . One had hoped that this poor performance would motivate Nagar Nigam, Dehra Dun to do better and put in place innovative programmes with all the stakeholders including the citizens, result oriented systems and motivated staff at every level towards achieving this objective. Clearly this was expecting too much from a Nagar Nigam that on its Website page of the Waste Disposal Management Cell still bears the photograph of the previous Mayor and where some complaints registered remain pending indefinitely !
Not surprisingly, as reported in a newspaper , we learn that in the Swach Survekshan Survey of 2019, our city has achieved the dubious distinction of descending to 384th place out of 425 cities surveyed. The Mayor Sunil Uniyal ‘Gama’ is reported to have told the media, “Our city has achieved low rank in the Swachh Survekshan Survey 2019 report even though all our officials are focusing majorly on sanitation. Keeping our city clean is one of our main priorities and every possible step will be taken by us to achieve this.”
One would have expected all those responsible for this shaming perfomance to be running for cover, more so when according to the Mayor ,they have been ‘focussing majorly on sanitation’. But those who should be accountable, instead appear to be on the offensive if one is to go by media reports !The Municipal Commissioner is quoted as having said ‘I think the survey done has some major loopholes due to which we scored such a low rank.” In a similar vein the MCD Chief Health Officer is quoted as saying “ In my opinion, I believe that our files were not checked properly. Also, the Shishambada waste management plant was not taken into consideration.” Clearly the intention is to shoot the messenger rather than face the problem head-on.
Whilst the Mayor’s sentiment of keeping the city clean and employing more sanitation staff is laudable, his further comment that ‘we are conducting a meeting with our officers for ensuring that our current system of sanitation can become better for the city,’ appears a sheer recipe for disaster. It merely promises more of the same which means even a worse ranking next year !
Unless there is recognition that keeping a city clean is not just a bureaucratic and administrative task but involves the active participation of every stake holder occupying the space, we are condemned to more of the same.
This is an opportunity for the Mayor and his team to think out of the box and arrive at innovative systems and solutions that will actively involve every stakeholder in the mission of making Clean Doon a reality. Fortunately for them the city has abundant talent pool of young and old alike, dynamic NGOs, institutions of repute, active and retired professionals, all of whom would gladly make themselves available and contribute their mite towards this worth-while mission.
Let the shame of our lowly 384th position make us Doonites bite the bullet and embark on this challenge led by the Mayor.