Delhi: Garbage Galore! PM Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharath’ seems like a Flop in City

Delhi: November 2015 marks exactly one year and one month since Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – the ambitious drive to clean India of filth by 2019. But in places like East and West Delhi tucked away from the glare of visitors to India’s capital city, there has been little difference. seems like Swachh Bharath has not been taken very seriously by Delhites. Moving around the City during my three day stay, I was surprised to see the filth on the streets-with cows, dogs and pigs feasting on the waste food/garbage. I have noticed that eight out of ten people in Delhi munch on chewing tobacco-and once they open the tobacco packet, they discard the wrapping on the streets- and later they spit where ever they want to. Imagine few lakhs of these chewing tobacco wrappers make on to the Delhi streets daily?


While returning back on SpiceJet flight, during the 2 1/2 hours journey from Indira Gandhi International Airport-Delhi to Dabolim Airport-Vasco, Goa, a male guy (guess a Delhite) sitting next to me was non-stop opening packets of Chewing Tobacco and stuffing the contents into his mouth- and the worst part was that he kept on throwing the empty wrappers on the flight floor-that’s what we are talking about a failure “Swachh Bharath” campaign. This guy might have at least opened 15 packs of the chewing the whole journey- and it was a mess near his feet. And this guy introduced himself to me as a research scientist at AIMS hospital-Delhi. If educated people can’t control their nasty habits, how about illiterate people.

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Speaking to, Ravi Sharma, a soft-ware engineer and a resident of Dwarka area said, “The neighbourhood is caught between what residents say is a ‘garbage crisis. The Swachh Bharat campaign is merely keeping prime areas of the city garbage free while others like us suffer. A canal few feet away from our residence, where garbage is dumped hasn’t been cleaned in months posing a serious threat to people’s health. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation is managed by corporators from Prime Minister Modi’s BJP. How nice, our PM tells other cities to maintain cleanliness, where he can’t even maintain Swachh here in Delhi, a few kms from the parliament. This is the state of many of areas across Delhi as residents complain of garbage and filth spilling on the streets and residential areas. I think that the only way Delhi can improve cleanliness is if a comprehensive waste management system is put into place. Depending on Swachh Bharath campaign will not serve the purpose”

We always knew this would happen say many taxi drivers and other citizens of Delhi. The Centre’s cleanliness survey has only officially established Delhi’s dirtiness. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) which covers the Lutyens’ zone has featured in the top 15 out of the 476 municipalities assessed. But that’s only three per cent of Delhi. The spic and span avenues and boulevards are largely because of the people who live in sprawling bungalows, and work in mighty installations.

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It is learnt that half of Delhi’s raw sewage – about 400 million gallons a day – and a large quantity of untreated toxic industrial waste flow into the near-dead Yamuna, also poisoning the fruits and vegetables grown in the floodplains. Apart from pollution due to increasing traffic, many have adjusted themselves to the perennial stink from open drains. Instead of draining out storm run-off, the 200-odd natural drains carry sewage. The toxic muck that is removed ahead of monsoon and dumped on roadside is a common sight. Thousands of filthy and unhealthy dhalaos (waste collection enclosures) dot the city and are part of daily life because door-to-door trash pick-up systems cater to only a fraction (15 per cent) of the city. A homeless man defecates in the open because there is no toilet facility available for him. The civic agencies have failed to build 1,000 toilets they promised last year. So what has PM Modi and CM Kejriwal done towards “Swachh Bharath” campaign according to the present situation-I guess nothing.

While I was waiting to catch a taxi, a person also standing next to me to hire a taxi, who happened to be a advocate said, ” Since municipalities are ruled by the BJP and AAP is in power in the state, a much avoidable blame game over the survey has taken off. The reality is all three – corporations, the AAP government and Centre – share the blame. The corporations have badly failed to manage waste. They say they do not have money, and the Delhi government does not always release funds on time. There have been three strikes by Delhi sanitation workers since Prime Minister Narendra Modi famously wielded the broom and launched his Swachh Bharat Mission from the capital. But there are systemic problems. Four of the three landfills are long overdue for closure. The Centre, which owns much of Delhi’s land, has not been able to provide fresh sites to take in the daily discards of 10,000 tonnes”

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One of my cousin who has to travel about 20 kms to her work place daily by auto-rickshaw from Dwaraka-Delhi says that she has to cover her mouth/nose to avoid the pollution, and also the stink from the pile of garbage on side streets. . Migrants live in inhuman conditions and cannot be blamed for unhygienic habits. Even the AAP leaders privately admit their Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board has failed to do its job. Constant complaints from shop owners and residents have not seen any action from the elected leaders, nor has Swachh Bharath campaign done any good, she adds.

In conclusion, seems like Delhi people at large, are equally guilty for the mess they are in. They don’t mind dirtying spaces belonging to others. There is no sense of ownership of public spaces. They always look to somehow get away. As long they get garbage out of sight, they don’t care. They lack good community behaviour. It’s also futile depending entirely on the government. I think for starters, they can segregate, compost and recycle their waste at home- but looks like that’s not happening. If it did, it will mean a cleaner city with fewer dhalaos, and garbage trucks. Modi’s mission may or may not have failed, but most part of Delhi certainly has. And it can only get better from here, in few years-may be or may not, looking at the present situation of garbage scattered across the City.


  1. There are two main reasons why this campaign seems to be in trouble:

    1. Modi has failed to take his own team to task. There is absolutely no excuse for not trying hard in Delhi!!! BJP leaders had a moral obligation and higher responsibility to take leadership and drive this campaign in every city and town. This would have made a much bigger impact in long run. In reality, BJP is also filled with very corrupt, useless, narcissistic individuals who have zero vision for the country. Forget about Delhi, take a look at BJP leaders in our own city and state. They don’t even care about cleanliness around their own office!! Doing something positive to society is not in their mind as it doesn’t get them any political mileage. They would rather focus on useless events!! Pathetic.

    2. The vicious, dangerous hatred from non-BJP parties and minority communities towards Modiji is also taking its toll. These groups would rather see India fail than Modi win!! These are the groups who will complain about ‘swatchcha bharatha’s failure while doing absolutely nothing to contribute to this campaign. These are the groups who never voted or supported Modi. They want him to fail in everything even though it means India’s failure!! Take a look at our own Mangaluru and see how many institutions and organizations are doing absolutely NOTHING. With a few exceptions like Sri Raamakrishna mission, I don’t see anyone working on this campaign!

    • Original R.Pai – “These are the groups who will complain about ‘swatchcha bharatha’s failure while doing absolutely nothing to contribute to this campaign.”

      From 15nt Nov. 2015, Modi has imposed one rupee tax on every Indian, when he earns two hundred rupees, exclusively for ‘swatchcha bharatha’.

      Original R.Pai, “These are the groups who never voted or supported Modi.”

      But, Modi is collecting the above tax from “the groups who never voted or supported Modi.” Therefore, Modi should clean up, as a matter of duty and not as a charity, as you would like to make it!

      Original R.Pai, “PM Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharath’ seems like a Flop.”

      Oh, Mr. Duplicate! Having collected the special tax of ‘swatchcha bharatha’, there is no scope to call it as Modi’s flop, call it as his failure!

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