EDITORIAL | Clean India: A civil society marred by lack of civic sense



In 2014, the government of India initiated the nation-wide Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) also known as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) or Clean India Mission to eliminate open defecation and to improve solid waste management (SWM).

Though the mission aimed to achieve an open-defecation free (ODF) India, respecting nature by keeping it clean is also part of the package as it is a solemn duty of every Indian citizen.

But unfortunately, with the kind of attitude some people have towards the environment, the aim to achieve a Clean India is but a distant dream.

While not overlooking and belittling the effort taken by the government to ensure we achieve the target of ODF India, the perception that this mission is only about the construction of toilets is wrong.

Proper waste disposal and sanitation are also the things one needs to factor in, and according to the Swachh Survekshan 2020, several cities and districts of Nagaland and Assam were adjudged the cleanest in the Northeast zone under the category of 50,000 to 1 lakh population.

We can attribute this to their innovative take on solid waste management.

But WHY was Shillong - the capital city of Meghalaya, a state that houses Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia - tagged as one of the dirtiest cities in the country?

There are several reasons - No processing and disposal indicators, Un-certified Garbage Free City, No sewerage system and a lack of public participation in the survey.

Besides this, other factors also contribute to the dismal performance of the so-called Scotland of the East.

What are these factors?

The answer is simple – the lack of civic sense.

In a world where common sense is not so common anymore, people tend to forget that the role and duty of keeping our city clean and green is not only the job of the government but every one of us.

The recent relaxation given by the government has allowed some freebies (very common on Sundays around the Laitkor to Smit stretch) roaming around like lions priding themselves that we are immune to every virus on planet Earth, maybe an Asteroid too!

We cannot stop anyone from going around but there has to a be a sense of understanding about their environment, we have littered everywhere and it is fit to say that karma now has us wearing PPE suits made of plastic.

Since last year, NGOs, students, bureaucrats to the common citizens joined hands in making Shillong a cleaner place, a perfect example, Team Jiva.

The lockdown due to the pandemic has taught us the lesson of cleanliness and it was what Shillong needed to keep the streets free from litter.

As soon as the gates were opened, we were like herds of cows released from the shackles of freedom throwing whatever we have and wherever possible. Are we the most dangerous species on earth?

Recently, there was a lot of traction on social media (Facebook) after a prominent personality posted several pictures he had taken in different areas around town with beer bottles strewn all over the place.

There is a need to draw boundaries in the way we act, enjoying with a sense of responsibility proves that we are different than animals in our way of thinking.