Mangaluru: Enforce Strict Laws for Littering, Provide Dustbins/Toilets, If Not ‘Swachh Bharath’ will be a ‘Pipe Dream’

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Mangaluru: Every Sunday morning till late in the afternoon, Ramakrishna Mission- a Ashram with the help of volunteers from other colleges/schools/other organizations engage themselves in cleaning Mangaluru, as part of their 40-week “Swachh Bharath Abhiyan’ in order to have a clean India/Mangaluru. In the same way, many other institutions/organizations have also launched projects to keep India/Mangaluru clean. I too have taken part in couple of these projects. But the problem or worst part is that the citizens/public don’t appreciate the social service done by these volunteers – the very next day they litter the place which was cleaned by these volunteers. How ungrateful and senseless our people could be. People just don’t care about keeping their surroundings clean- they spit/litter wherever they want and whenever they want. If people keep on dirtying the place, why these institutions/organizations even bother to have clean campaign programmes. The only way to stop this human behaviour is to enforce strict laws and punish the litterers.

Let me give an example- very close to my residence at Kadri Pumpwell ( few yards from Bharath Beedi Ltd), people throng day and night to savour ice cream delights at ‘Natural Ice Cream’ shack. Twice with the help of my neighbours we had cleaned the area in front of this ice cream shop, when the customers at the shop were enjoying their treats, in order to bring awareness about cleanliness. But unfortunately, day after day, night after night, the surroundings of this Ice Cream shop is dirty with thrown away ice cream cups, Ice candy wrappers etc etc. And I feel ashamed to say that the people who create this mess/garbage are rich educated folks/students etc, who simply don’t care about cleanliness. If educated people can’t have manners, why blame the poor uneducated community?

Dirty Again! Bunder Road once cleaned by Hotel Taj Gateway Staff

Dirty Again! Kankanady Market Road once cleaned by Valencia Church Volunteers

I really do like the idea of PM Modi launching the “Swachh Bharath Abhiyan” dreaming of changing India into a cleaner nation in few years. But if Prime Minister Modi is serious about Swachh Bharat, he must provide leadership in converting the slogan into a viable multi-faceted programme- he should advise the government officials to enforce strict laws to punish the litterers, and also advise the city corporations to provide dustbins and toilets wherever needed. Who does not want, or hasn?t wanted, a clean India the public places of which are today probably the dirtiest and the most polluted in the world?

The question one must ask is: why it has been so, and what has not been done to change the situation for the better? Otherwise, Swachh Bharat will only remain a slogan, like Indira Gandhi?s ?Garibi Hatao.? -Just look around we still have millions of poor/starving people in this country It is strange that while much has been said about Swachh Bharat, no one appears to have pointed out that Indians are traditionally and culturally clean people. If the country looks dirty to a visitor, as it truly is ? the biggest culprit is the government/civic departments which are unclean in ways more than one!

Just drive down from Mangalore International Airport into the City, the pathetic dirty scenes will not impress a visitor/foreigner coming into Mangaluru. Sidewalks, if they are there, are broken, encroached, or otherwise dysfunctional. There are mounds of mud and garbage on the side of the road which have been there for years. The buildings acquired to widen the road have not been demolished and have remained abandoned for years. Cows are seen roaming at many points. Garbage is scattered at many places.There is leftover construction material such as broken stones that line the pavements of roads. Whenever there is construction, one often finds unnecessary encroachment. In many places, road dividers are non-functional. The poor condition of roads can lead to numerous health issues for users. Even elite residential localities do not seem to be free of these problems. This is what we call a Non-functional municipality/corporation.

The fact is that there is no professional expertise in the Municipal Corporation to keep the city clean. Combined with total apathy, it creates an irremediable situation. This deplorable situation is compounded by corruption. There is virtually no supervision when a civil work contract is given by the Municipal Corporation or Municipality, for example, for road repair. It is the responsibility of the contractor to remove all the construction material or waste, but it is just pushed to the side of the road to save money that would be otherwise spent on its transportation and disposal ? and no one cares. Not surprisingly the only places that are clean are the new institutions/corporate sites. The fact is that once you leave areas which come within the purview of civil administration, India, and for that matter, Mangaluru is substantially clean. We are thus a country where ?private? places are clean but ?public? places are dirty.

Dirty Again! MG Road twice cleaned by SDM Students

Dirty Again! Near SDM College cleaned twice by Volunteers of Ramakrishna Mission

Dirty Again! Kadri Road once cleaned by St. Agnes College Students

Dirty Again! VT Road once cleaned by Milagres NSS Students

It is not that the citizens in our cities and towns do not contribute to public filth. They do and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, there are no waste bins in public places where people can dispose their waste, so they simply throw it on the road or the sidewalk if it exists. Just image where would a person throw the banana skin or a candy wrapper bought at a shop ( which should have provided a dustbin, but didn’t), when no garbage bins are provided by the city corporation. Also where would a person go to relieve himself/herself, when no proper toilets are provided. How then can we talk of Swachh Bharat when the majority in the country has no access to clean toilets, and the environment is so badly polluted? As far as I know, there is much talk but no detailed workable solution to provide clean toilet facility to every family ? either in villages or in cities. Every politician wants to do it but nobody really does it or even has an idea of how to go about doing it. Operationally, it is not easy.

Yes, Mangaluru is growing and it is attracting many visitors from other countries- even we get tourists coming into NMPT by cruise ships- and when they take a tour of the coastal city, all they see is filth, and they are quick in capturing those scenes on their digital cameras. And if these foreigners decide to use a toilet, there is none- and even if they find a western-style toilet, sometimes with no seat- there are chances there won’t be toilet paper. And to expect toilet paper in a western-style toilet at any government building is to ask for the Moon. And the city authorities wants foreigners to tour Mangaluru, when they can’t even provide simple basic personal facilities. Bah humbug!

Secondly, it is about human psychology. If the place is clean and maintained clean, the tendency of a visitor or a user is not to make it dirty. On the other hand, if the place is already dirty, the tendency is not to worry about making it dirtier. Needed, a holistic definition-Then, there is the question of environment. Can we really have Swachh Bharat when our environment is so polluted? Finally, we have to consider the state of our villages where 70 per cent of India lives. Can we talk of Swachh Bharat, ignoring what happens in our villages where poverty is the greatest polluter? Can any scheme of cleaning up our villages be viable if, for example, we do not provide village children access to high-quality schools? Doesn?t education, including vocational education, provide the greatest resource for alleviating poverty? Thus, to think of Swachh Bharat as an achievable objective would be a folly unless equal emphasis is laid on several other objectives such as high-quality universal education.

Yes, since the Swachh Bharath movement has started and more and more people are getting conscious about cleanliness. So we are on the way and if all people join the movement then Swachh Bharat is not far away! But people should understand that it is not about ‘CLEANING’ but about ‘NOT DIRTYING’… I think that Swacch Bharat is more like skirting of responsibility by the Indian Government. But now government will be like, hey look we launched a mission called, Swachh Bharat, and our PM took broom for seconds so did big people who would never know how to catch a broom in a lifetime. Now if the streets are dirty, no place to throw garbage, and worse, no public toilets, and then you are forced to dirty up the place, well its your mistake.

We Indians aren’t dirty, we keep our houses clean, we keep ourselves clean, we cant be expected to keep the goddamn road clean too. Don’t we have enough responsibilities in life already to feed our families and work our asses off through so much shit to make a good living to now actually go clean up somebody else’s mess. By the way why do college/school students or members of organizations have to clean somebody else’s mess. We need more than some media campaign, we need some real groundwork being done from government. You want me to not litter, well then provide me garbage bins, you dont want me to pee on the roadside, well have public toilets installed etc etc.
It will never be followed by all Indians unless people are educated and stricter rules are enforced. Apart from that our government must also take its initiative towards Swachch Bharath. People must be educated on minimizing the use of polythene bags. Shops must charge heavy on people who ask for polythene bags. Once people are charged heavy, they will have the habit of bringing the same polythene bag that they got a month or two before, thereby reducing the net usage of polythene bags.

Dirty Again! Behind Bus stand near St Agnes College which was twice cleaned by Ugly Indians ( a Volunteer group)

The best way to control littering is to Enforce Stricter Rules: Rules must be framed and people who violate must be penalized heavily. Heavy penalty amount must be imposed on people who litter, urinate in the surroundings. Also, Role of government in Swachch Bharath is important- Indian Government must ensure that adequate number of dustbins and urinals are installed throughout the city so that people get a sense of not to throw or urinate in the surroundings. In the long run, the government must take initiatives so that paper usage reduces to the minimum. Providing access cards for passengers in buses and trains, e-receipt, e-currency, tax exemption to people who invest part of their income towards environmental protection are a few long term goals which government can consider.Thus, Swachch Bharath being a collective effort of the government and its citizens, India still has a long way to go.
When you see someone litter or spit, shout out loud, ‘Swachch Bharat Abhiyan’  -Attitude and infrastructure will both have to go hand in hand. Yes, the Prime Minister identifies this problem as one of the biggest hurdles in Development and rightly addresses to the people of the nation. He has expressed his vision for a Clean India by the year 2019 which marks the 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It was his vision to see India as a clean nation. When I initially thought about his idea I felt Wow !! The Prime Minister thinks at such levels too. But then again negative thoughts were coming to me that it is a matter of only some days after which people will eventually forget about it.

I know cleanliness is a process which can’t be changed overnight, therefore the Prime Minister has stated his vision for the next 5 years. As I have noticed it in some instances it eventually boils down to the mentality of the people. Most of the Indians feel that I pay tax why should I clean roads? No one is telling you to clean roads. That job should be assigned to the concerned people by the Government of India. The message behind this movement is to stop creating waste at first. If we stop throwing wastes on roads and instead dump them in dustbins naturally it will look clean. We need to change our thinking. We need to change our way of accepting things as they are.

There is a surfacing reality that is creating a chasm between the expectations and current outcomes from “Swacch Bharat Abhiyan”. If the administrative committee of this Abhiyan seriously expect from the citizens of India to properly dispose the unused materials, then please put dust-bins also at repetitive interval of distance on every road of India/Mangaluru. There is great dearth of dust-bins on most roads of India. And it seems ridiculous to take the unused materials with oneself.
So, I strongly urge to the administrative members of this Abhiyan to pay heed to this matter if you really want it to be a successful Abhiyan.
Though we have a long way to go, there are certain steps which can be followed. People are too careful about the cleanliness of their own house , so  lets consider it done. Second, as far as throwing waste outside the house is concerned, there must be a counselor of locality,who must penalize the owner of the house where-ever waste is found. Similarly, for a locality, if a particular locality is filthy, the counselor of that locality have to pay the penalty then. Now, here I sound too optimistic, and have ignored all the corruption, and frivolous nature of most of people working as such , but this question doesn’t demands the steps needed to remove corruption, for that topic, already much things have been said .
In conclusion, once again I would like to mention is that If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is serious about Swachh Bharat, he must provide leadership in converting what is a slogan into a viable multi-faceted programme, no matter how difficult or challenging it is going to be. Just by volunteers of educational institutions/organizations involving themselves in various cleaning programmes for a day or two or weeks will not serve the purpose in making Swachh Bharath successful. Government should enforce strict laws in punishing those who litter, and also provide dustbins/toilets at the earliest- ONLY then we can expect “Swachh Bharath/Clean India by 2019, if not this “Abhiyan” will just be a “Pipe Dream!”.

Author: Alfie Dsouza-Illinois

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