Vrindavan, 2017.09.12 (VT): Perhaps Prime Minister Modi’s Swachch Bharat movement is finally beginning to show real results. Impressed by Indore in Madhya Pradesh’s meteoric climb from 149th to 1st as the cleanest city in India, according to this years Swachcha Sarvekshan (Cleanliness Survey), Mathura’s Municipal Corporation – like many others in India – are rushing to Indore to find out what it was they did.
The “Indore Model” seems to be one that works. So the Vrindavan-Mathura Municipal Corporation is sending a there on a fact-finding mission so that the template for our city can be redrawn. Mathura ranked 352nd of the 434 cities in the 2017 survey.
DM Arvind Malappa Bangari and other administration officials revealed their plans for cleaning up the holy Dham in a public forum of the Uttar Pradesh Braj Pilgrimage Development Council (Braj Tirth Vikash Parishad) held on Friday in the Vrindavan Research Institute auditorium. Many stakeholders from Vrindavan were present at the forum.
Part of the program is a massive volunteer-based cleanup, which will run from 8 to 9 each morning from September 9th to 15th.
The DM said that next month the corporation will send a team to inspect the sanitation project run by the Indore muncipality so that it can be adopted in Mathura-Vrindavan so that our municipal corporation can also become a model of cleanliness.
Retired IPS officer and “Supercop” Shailja Kant Mishra, who was named to the vice-president position only a few days ago said that after 27 years , he has gotten the chance to serve Braj. He looks forward to working with the public to make this mission, responsibility for which the state government has place on his shoulders, a success.
Other speakers at the forum included Narayandas Agarwal, Ram Kishore Agarwal, Swami Maheshnand Saraswati, Naval Giri, Padmanabh Goswami, RK Pandey, Jagannath Poddar, Mahant Phuldol Bihari Das and Vijay Rinanga. Many other of the leading personalities of the Braj-Vrindavan community were also present.
The Indore transformation
The best explanations for what was done in Indore can be found on Quora, where numerous residents have proudly given their summaries of what was done there. It seems that the combination of (1) providing facilities, (2) publicity and (3) punishing non-compliance are the keys to the program.
(1) Providing facilities.
- It is clear that without door-to-door collection, people will continue to get rid of their waste wherever it is convenient, usually in the street or over the wall into the nearest vacant property. The Indore Municipal Corporation sends its fleet of trucks, at fixed times of the day, to the neighborhoods. It sounds a siren so that people know it is there. The trucks also have separate compartments for different kinds of waste so that people have to separate their waste.
- Public toilets have been provided so that no one has to urinate or defecate in the open.
- Tons and tons of dustbins have been provided everywhere in the town.
- Composting facilities near markets and so on.
[These last two are only really possible where there are fewer street animals, which is a problem that is particularly acute in Mathura/Vrindavan.]
- Perhaps the most remarkable success was in having the garbage trucks play a catchy jingle that caught on with people. It helped that they got a star singer like Shaan to sing it. The lyrics go like this –
Swachchhata ke doot banke ham chale ghar ghar mohalla
Indore ko Swachchh banana hai
Ab hamne ye thhaana hai
Hamne jo maana hai ab use nibhaana hai
Indore ko ab bharat mei no. 1 banana hai
As messengers of cleanliness, we walk the streets to every home, and sing songs about cleanliness. We believed in cleanliness, it’s now time to adopt and implement it, and make our city the cleanest in India.
As one person commented: The song was so effective that people just could not forget it. Recall how you keep humming a song that you hear in the morning the entire day? Imagine hearing a song every day. It was effective because it helped to inculcate a culture change.
- Besides this there was also a massive awareness drive for cleanliness, which used murals and public theater skits, in schools and elsewhere.
- The civic body started a campaign using school children (the “dabba gang”) who would start beating metal boxes whenever they saw anyone defecating in the open. This has been very effective in stopping the problem of open defecation.
- 85 jeeps were given to the ward chiefs to patrol the streets and fine litterers, etc. More than Rs 80 lakhs in fines was collected in the last 18 months.
- Special charges are also levied for gatherings that produce waste, such as political meetings, etc.
- People raising animals like cows, dogs and pigs, who let them wander the streets, have been dealt with firmly.
- Another important achievement seems to have been the ability to break the unions of the cleaners in town.
Sources say that close to 600 safai karamcharis who refused to work have been fired after taking six union heads into “alliance and confidence”. A 1,000 willing workers have been hired instead, taking the total number of staff to 6,500 at present.
There is more to it than just the above. But it appears that the principal element throughout is the iron will of the municipal commissioner with the support of all the municipal staff.