Swacch needs to be people's campaign

Mysuru has been named the cleanest city in the Swachh Bharat rankings, standing first among 476 cities in the country. Bengaluru, which ranks seventh among cities, has been named the cleanest capital. While South Indian cities performed far better than the rest of the country, the North is clearly a mess. Seventy-four North Indian cities figure among the filthiest 100 cities; prominent among them is Delhi, which figures at a shameful 398. Only one city from Uttar Pradesh figures in the top 100. Karnataka features prominently in the rankings with four cities – Mysuru, Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru – appearing among the top 10 cleanest cities in the country. While civic officials in the state are patting themselves on their back for the state’s performance on the Swachh Bharat rankings, Bengalureans’ response has been one of bemusement rather than pride.

How come Bengaluru, a city which, in recent years, has earned itself the nomenclature of ‘Garbage City’, be named the country’s cleanest state capital? It is worrying that a city, which is notorious for its heaps of garbage lying strewn across main roads and open sewers, is India’s seventh cleanest city and its cleanest state capital. If the cleanest capital is the mess that Bangalore is, one can imagine the condition of the dirty cities. Doubts have been raised over the credibility of the survey. Ranking of cities was reportedly based on the extent of open defecation, adoption of solid waste management practices,  waste-water treatment, etc. The government must come clean on its choice of criteria, the survey method adopted and how the rankings were arrived at.

What will be the outcome of the survey? Will civic officials dump the survey report and allow it to gather dust? Or, will it motivate them to clean up their act? Authorities have rarely accorded importance to issues like environment-friendly garbage disposal and sewage treatment. While massive funds are allotted, attention is not given to the implementation of programmes. But pointing an accusing finger at the authorities is unhelpful. Keeping our cities clean is not the responsibility of the government alone but of the civil society too. The government can initiate campaigns but the onus of keeping our cities clean rests ultimately with us, the people of this country. Clean-up campaigns will not succeed if they are just one-day events that are played out before television cameras. Their success hinges on public cleanliness becoming a part of our daily routine. People must embrace clean-up campaigns and make it their own.
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