Together we stay clean

Together we stay clean
Please download Swachhatha App. Wherever you come across garbage, click its photo and upload a complaint. Let’s make our Mysuru number one again.” The text pops up as a WhatsApp message on the phones of Mysuru residents early in the morning everyday. While a group of committed swachhatha workers completes their part of work of motivating Mysureans by midnight, another group of early risers continues the effort soon after. “Guys, let’s not lose to other cities this time because of this one reason. Clean City Survey allots 25% weightage to the complaints uploaded and resolved through App. We are already clean, and only if we could ensure usage of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) App, we remain number one again” reads another WhatsApp message. Another message, “This Sunday, our group is holding the 125th cleanliness drive. Please do join us by 6 am” is publicised widely on digital platforms, newspapers and cable TVs.

Spick and span
Any casual look at local newspapers or  online platforms convinces one beyond doubt that the drive to keep Mysuru city the number one clean city has caught the imagination of the concerned citizenry to motivate people across the city. “Mysuru has always remained a vibrant and responsible city,” believes Ramesh Kikkeri, who is into propagating low cost housing technology. “We generate around 420 tonnes of waste every day in Mysuru, out of which 320 tonnes are by individual households. At present the management of this waste is on the positive side and the credit goes to Mysore City Corporation,” he says. The next logical step should be “to convert 100% of the organic waste generated into compost at the households itself, cutting down on the cost of transporting garbage outside the city and even polluting the surroundings,” he says.

“Suggestions expected from the members regarding keeping the Chamundi Hills clean,” the Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru district, D Randeep sends a message on a WhatsApp group called ‘Clean Mysuru’. Immediately, a number of suggestions are shared and acknowledged. The group engages the district administration head in a meaningful dialogue on keeping the district’s many tourist places clean. As many of the group’s members are experts in sustainable development, they provide their best in the interest of the city.

The present Mysore City Corporation  commissioner, G Jagadeesha, also shares regular updates of visits to inspect garbage collection across the city on day- to-day basis. Along with his team of officials, Jagadeesha interacts with various groups engaged in cleanliness drive across various platforms such as WhatsApp and Twitter. Once, a health inspector shared her scheduled visit to an area focusing on the eradication of plastic carry bags and invited the members’ participation too. A notable feature of Mysuru’s journey towards remaining a clean city is the growing interaction of officials with citizens and citizens’ group.

“We need to create an ecosystem wherein the officials of MCC feel motivated to carry on with the mission to keep our city clean. Our group precisely aims at facilitating this,” says Madhukesh S, the Clean Mysuru WhatsApp group’s admin. “Unfortunately, the officials would also be under various push and pulls such as lack of qualified persons and inadequate staffing and this hampers their efficiency. The need is to complement their role,” he says. The group members are also active in offline activities like organising cleanliness activities in the city’s schools.

This public and private participation is further bolstered by the active involvement of politicians who have jumped onto the bandwagon of cleanliness drive of the city. Every day, Mysuru newspapers carry news of one or the other politician leading a cleanliness drive. “Waste disposal is one of the leading issues in urban areas. So, it is inevitable that waste becomes part and parcel of politics. So, if a politician makes a career out of it, that’s fine,” says Basavanna, who teaches Geography in a college.

Towards retaining the top place Mysureans seem to have brought Mahatma Gandhi’s words — ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ — into action in their quest for the ‘Best Clean City of India’ award for the year 2017 too. Organisations from every walk of life — formal and informal, spiritual, cultural and social — have joined their hands in the endeavour.

One can find a fine balance of old and new things in Mysuru’s drive for ‘the Clean City’ award. Social platforms are used complementary to the efforts of offline ones like government offices and civil society organisations. Individuals from various walks of life directing their resources towards cleanliness drive. The cultural capital of Karnataka is marching ahead towards achieving hat- trick as the cleanest city of India by believing in the words of Benjamin Disraeli who once said, “Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.”

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