By Sandeep Banerjee: Following the clarion call of ‘Swachh Bharat’ given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ‘Swachh Bhubaneswar Abhiyaan’ was simultaneously launched on Gandhi Jayanti day i.e 2nd of October this year. The campaign was ceremoniously launched by Culture and Tourism Minister of the State , Shri Ashok Panda. He also inaugurated a toll-free number and a website related to the Mission on the occasion. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) was made the nodal agency to execute the campaign. People were given the right to call and lodge sanitation related complaints which would get solved within 24 hours. It was decided that awareness about cleanliness will be spread among people but at the same time BMC would impose administrative charges on people throwing garbage here and there. The Bhubaneswar Railway station became one of the first places from where the campaign got rolling.
It is now almost two months since the campaign got launched. Odisha News Insight , living up to its self imposed responsibility of being a social watchdog, undertook a fact finding mission to find out how much progress the campaign has really made . The ONI team covered almost the length and breadth of the capital city to uncover the reality.
One got the clear impression that barring few peripheral areas, the BMC has really put in sincere efforts as far as maintaining cleanliness and sanitation is concerned. Most of the public places like Hospitals & Health care centres, schools, Railway station , the Airport, markets , the many big temples for which the capital is world famous as well as the thoroughfares were found clean with regular garbage collecting exercise as well as spreading of bleaching and disinfectants at required spots. The Bus stands (Baramunda as well as Master Canteen) and their adjoining areas came up as stark exceptions where garbage pile-ups and littering is glaring to the eye. Then there are few big gutters and sewerage canals across the town which also brings up an obnoxious picture. To drive home our point there are illustrations in this feature of almost each such spots that caught the eye of the ONI.
However, in putting this up, we also like to highlight the fact that these areas of concern are more out of wrong commissions of the public rather than any huge omission on part of the nodal agency. There are places where BMS garbage collection vats are close at hand but still the solid waste is being thrown by the street or dumped at the foot of any green cover surrounding that area . Some of the canals, drains and gutters may be uncovered…..surely a thing to look into. But the problem has been compounded multiple times with the citizens making them as garbage dumping outlets. There is such lack of sense that eateries and food joints are functioning next to these and there are also dwellings almost adjacent to them. Fruit sellers were found selling in some places next to garbage dumps. The ONI also found a propensity to just blame the Municipal Corporation and the Govt by those who themselves are not adhering to their basic duties. If the common citizens do not get conscious and active about their civic responsibilities then the Municipal Corporation and the Govt cannot be solely blamed for parts of the city still lying ‘Aswachh’.
This senior Correspondent of ONI met the Mayor , Additional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioner of the BMC at the BMC office in downtown Bhubaneswar. The Mayor, Shri Ananta Narayan Jena , said that the BMC is taking the Swachh Bhubaneswar campaign very seriously and will leave no stones unturned to make the city a better and healthy place to live in. He personally showed the report card of the last few months wherein schools, offices, colleges, commercial as well as religious places have been brought under the ambit of the campaign which matched with the fact finding on the ground by the ONI. He said that Ward numbers 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10,47,48,56 and 57 are already under the full fledged coverage of the Mission and that the work in the other wards will vigorously follow. But he too lamented the consciousness part of the people at large. “ We are getting co-operation from many quarters but there is much to be desired as far as peoples participation and active indulgence in the campaign is concerned. As and when this happens, nobody can stop the mission to be a runaway success”, he opined.
Additional Commissioners Shri K.P. Pati and Smt D. Brundha informed that the BMC has handed over the work to private agencies and NGO’s in 57 out of the total 67 wards but with the final oversee and control very much in its hands . The BMC holds regular meetings with all the agencies and the stakeholders to not only get the feedback of the progress but also to devise the roadmap ahead . The senior officials are in mission mode with continuous visits to different areas to supervise and get first-hand account of the work done. Most importantly, when the TNI showed and pointed out the loopholes that remained, these senior officials not only acknowledged the same but also made no attempt to offer lame and callow excuses, as is often the case with Govt officials . If fact, they pledged to remove these shortfalls as quickly as possible but in turn also pleaded for more public support to keep the city in right frame.
“ Nobody can instill love for ones environment and the desire to remain clean and healthy. It has to come from within”, opined Subhrangshu Mishra, BMC Deputy Commissioner and the man who is responsible to make the campaign a reality on the ground. He speaks this with his present capacity of being the main interface with the public as in handling the module adopted by the BMC of public-Govt participation and co-ordination in making Swachh Bhubaneswar campaign a success. “ BMC kicked off Swachh Bhubaneswar as the nodal agency but the campaign is now no longer BMC’s exclusive responsibility. We have tried to involve civil society groups , NGO’s and the citizens at large to carry the work forward with the right purpose. Sanitation and cleanliness , if left to be only BMC’s prerogative , will never attain its desired end. We have done our part in convening meetings , trainings and showing the way by running the campaign in different hospitals, schools, public places, Railway station , markets, religious places etc. Now we have started getting response from the public. It is not only the CRPF or the Airport and AAI that have carried the campaign forward with our help but civil society groups and NGO’s like RISE , Sampark Trust, Practical Action etc as also citizens Forums of various areas have come forward and sought our support , guidance and help to make the mission a success. The BMC is always there to provide all kind of logistic and backup support ’’, said Mishra, known for his dynamism and untiring efforts.
ONI feels that herein it is also noteworthy to mention the pioneering role of the Airport officials and the AAI in the Swachh Bhubaneswar Abhiyaan. On first of October itself all the employees, led by Airport Director, Shree Sharad Kumar, swept the areas in and around the New Domestic Terminal Building (T1). Broom sticks and dustbins were provided in large numbers and all the employees participated in this campaign in a massive way to make the Airport a cleaner place. Sub-committees were formed to supervise and ensure proper cleaning of all the demarcated locations with the help of AAI staff, CISF and Airlines staff, Concessionaries and all the stake holders associated with the Airport. A committee of 3 members inspected these areas and ranked them in order of their cleanliness.
The very next day i.e on 2nd of October, the Airport Director administered the pledge of “Swachh Bharat” in the morning in front of New Domestic Terminal Building (T1). All AAI staff and executives along with taxi drivers, passengers & other stake holders participated and took the pledge. Thereafter APD, JGM(ATC), JGM(CNS), AGM(E-E), Organising Secretary, AAEU & other staff participated in the tree plantation programme in front of T1. Cleaning & dusting of all sections and rooms was carried out.
AAI has also taken up “Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyaan” in which construction of 35 toilets for girl child in Khurda district of Odisha has been planned. Work was started at Hatasahi Girl High School in village Sarakantara as beginning of the Abhiyaan to be followed up in other schools. The AAI and the Airport officials have laid a wonderful example for others to follow.
To keep Bharat or Bhubaneswar Swachh is our honour and responsibility. Slowly but surely Bhubaneswar is coming to mission mode and the TNI team expects to return home from the next fact finding mission thoroughly disappointed without any collection of material proof but with their chests swelled with pride and happiness. It is time for all to rise up. Yes, WE and only WE can do it !