“As I drive by in the early hours of rain drenched surroundings, overcast skies and the shine and glitter of washed streets and plants, one does observe a certain effort towards cleanliness and efforts being made to keep it that way ..
So .. we appreciate and applaud the drives in other countries, but do not in ours .. its habit forming .. its education .. its discipline .. when they get together, achievement is not too far away ..”
(Big B Blog DAY - 3019)
Big B has rightly observed ‘ a certain effort towards cleanliness and efforts being made to keep it that way’. It is to a great extent the effect of “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” (Clean India Mission) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and enthusiastic participation of people, especially the celebrities, to make it a success. However, the success of the mission so far is to be seen in few metro and other big cities only and not so much, or, perhaps, not at all, in small cities and towns spread in large numbers throughout length and breadth of India. They, more or less, are where they have been for long - full of filth all over. No administrative or collective effort of residents is seen being made to make these cities cleaner to some extent at least. I give an example from my personal experience of living in Alwar (Rajasthan), the city we adopted to live after surrendering our government accommodation in New Delhi on retirement of my wife from government service in early nineties. As soon as we settled down there it looked like the Collectorate and the residents were competing to see who contributed more to make the city as dirty as possible. As was my hobby then, to write ‘Letters to the Editor’, I wrote one on the lack of sanitation and cleanliness in Alwar, which was prominently published in the Hindustan Times:
“It was in the late seventies, when I preferred the option of accepting a challenging job to manage the most modern foundry that was coming up in Alwar, Rajasthan, to being transferred from New Delhi to Bombay in my job of 20 years with Godrej, a reputed company. Although only 100 miles from New Delhi, due to bad condition of the road, it was beyond daily commuting. I would spend weekends with my family in New Delhi and return to Alwar on Monday mornings, to manage the factory located in the newly developed industrial area, 10 miles from the city.
Alwar, I soon found , was too sleepy to have any life. A grand historic city of the times of Maharajas, its grandeur and glory were all gone. The majestic palace built in marble was turned into the Collector's office, overlooking the over crowded district courts within its compound walls. The great fort on the hilltop, visible for miles around the city, was perhaps the most neglected of all the places that must have been once the pride of Alwar and its rulers. As for the city itself, the citizens regarded heaps of garbage and choked open drains with dirty stagnant water along the houses, as a way of life. They did not seem to care that they were living in perpetual danger of being afflicted by the dreaded decease of Malaria. There could be no better breeding facilities for mosquitoes than found here. The mosquito menace simply made their life hell. However, they felt solace from the saying that those who have lived in Alwar are assured of definite entry into heaven after death; they have already served their term in hell while living here and atoned for whatever sins they might have committed in their life.
Clearing of drains for free flow of rainwater as well as removal of city garbage was the responsibility of a contractor, who passed on the duty to stray cattle and street pigs. Mosquitoes, in the meanwhile, had the best breeding time in the stagnant dirty water of the drains all over the city. I, along with most other engineers and professionals, who had come to Alwar to work in the upcoming factories in the industrial area, though dismayed, could hardly do much to improve the sanitation in the city, except to draw attention of the authorities to the dreaded malaria menace through this 'Letter to the Editor' in the Hindustan Times.”
The letter, prominently published in HT with bold headlines, became talk of the town, as it was for the first time that Alwar was mentioned in the national press. The letter also attracted the attention of the Collector, who immediately ordered civic officials to launch cleanliness drive in the city, before his bosses in the central government gave any directions based on the letter. But it turned out to be a temporary measure and made no impact whatsoever on the day-to-day life of the people living in Alwar till date. Nobody cares for the SBA which is in operation for over two years now, and neither the TV channels nor the local leaders and administration are bothered to bring sanity to the city by improving its sanitation.