Swachh Bharath: Please do not sweep the issue under the carpet

sweepbaby“I am scared of these ‘porake’s.” They are not going to solve the problem. Instead, this opportunity should have been used to create awareness on segregation because all this mixed waste is going to end up in Mandur.”

This is what senior activist N S Ramakanth of Solid Waste Management Round Table said in a panel discussion aired by a Kannada TV channel this evening as a prelude to the Swachh Bharath campaign to be kicked off on Gandhi Jayanthi tomorrow.

nsrAs the panellists went on stressing the dire need for segregation of waste at source, the split screen kept flashing the images of several Union ministers sweeping relatively cleaner gardens and walkways.While commending the Central Government’s commitment to a “clean India”, Ramakanth focused more on what could make this whole exercise a lot more effective and that the portrayal of it has a lot to do with how it would be perceived collectively. Ramakanth said: “Ideally, we should have had images of segregated waste being picked up separately and disposed of properly… Then sweeping would have made sense.”

This shows how the execution of a much-needed and well-meaning message is being rendered way too simplistic. How does sweeping roads alone help solve the problem? In fact, this HAS BEEN the problem all this while—mixing all the waste, sweeping it and dumping it thoughtlessly. Isn’t it?

In Bangalore, as part of this campaign, we are getting to hear that hundreds of BBMP trucks will go on a hyperdrive tomorrow morning to load up all the mixed waste scooped up by enthusiastic volunteers. In most cases, it will be a two-hour fixation and then patting one’s own back saying, “I did my bit for my country”. If it survives beyond that, the enthusiasm is perhaps commendable. But still, is it sustainable? The issue is much deeper. It needs a lot more reflection and decisive action.

Otherwise, it will end up becoming an amusing twist to the excruciatingly painful and boring routine of the pourakarmikas. Far worse, a nightmare to the Mandur people who will wake up to a larger pile of mixed garbage burning ever so slowly and viciously.

Picture source: younews.in.

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