Let’s Talk Guwahati: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan unsuccessful in city

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Let’s Talk Guwahati: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan unsuccessful in city

Nehal Jain | September 01, 2018 12:15 hrs

GUWAHATI: At least 52% Guwahati residents feel that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been unsuccessful in the city. This was revealed during a month-long survey conducted by G Plus titled ‘Let’s Talk Guwahati’ using both online and offline mediums in which over 10,000 respondents took part.

When asked “Do you think Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been successful in Guwahati?” 52.6% of the respondents said that according to them, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been highly unsuccessful in the city. Further, 28.6% said that it has been somewhat successful but still has a long way to go. A mere 18.8% of the respondents said that the campaign has been successful.

At a time when the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led state as well as national government is laying a lot of emphasis on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, citizens of Guwahati expressed discontent over the steps being taken by the administration towards achieving its goals. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a campaign that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, smaller towns and rural areas and make the country Open-Defecation-Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019. 

In response to another question, “Which steps are vital for making Guwahati cleaner?” the most sought after solution was that the administration should take proactive steps to sensitize citizens; 22.5% respondents opted for this response. Further, 12.7% said that more litter bins need to be installed in the city, 12.1% said that citizens should be penalized for littering and 8.7% said that commercial establishments should be mandated to keep their immediate surroundings clean. A whopping 44.1% responded by saying all of the above steps must be taken. 

“I believe that the government is trying to channelize our money for the betterment of the society but the locals continue to feel that nothing is being done on-ground. The prime reason behind Swachh Bharat Abhiyan being unsuccessful is the carelessness of the citizens of Guwahati, as everyone wants to keep their premises clean but not their surroundings,” Vikash Sharma, a resident of Bharalumukh told G Plus.

In a move to curb with the ever-growing problem of waste and its disposal, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) recently launched an awareness campaign in the city with the aim to promote waste segregation at source. The GMC, in a positive step, also formed a special unit - Swachh Guwahati Squad - which will act to stop littering, urinating and spitting in public places. This squad will also be checking on those who throw garbage at public places. The offenders will also be penalized if found guilty, under the GMC Act. 

Speaking to G Plus about the awareness campaign, Manojit Bujarbaruah, executive engineer of GMC said, “The initiative has been taken to educate the citizens of Guwahati about waste segregation and waste disposal. Our aim is to sensitize them in order to gain their support in moving towards a cleaner and greener Guwahati.”

Additionally, a highly placed source in GMC told G Plus that Guwahati will receive 400 more litter bins before Durga Puja this year. These dustbins will be installed across all major commercial areas. He further added that GMC is procuring more equipment for garbage collection and vehicles for waste segregation. 


Irregular garbage collection still a menace

While officials at the GMC continue to implement new initiatives to curb the problem of garbage, over 62% Guwahatians informed G Plus during the recently conducted survey that garbage collection is irregular in their locality. 

Responding to the question, “How often is garbage collected from your house?” a discouraging 37.6% of the total sample size said that garbage is regularly collected (on a daily basis) from their respective houses. Out of the remaining 62.4% respondents, 30.6% said that garbage is collected once in two days, 19.1% said that it’s collected once in a week, 8.4% said that it’s collected fortnightly while 4.3% replied by saying that garbage is never collected from their houses. 

There are a total of 58 NGOs currently working in tandem with the GMC that are responsible for collection of garbage from the various wards across the city. Speaking to G Plus about the performance of the NGOs, Manojit Bujarbaruah said, “Among the NGOs, some are working efficiently while others are average and a few are not taking their work seriously at all. We, at GMC, have identified 11 such NGOs whose performances have been really bad and we’re taking strict action against them. Not only are they being penalized, their contracts will also being terminated if they do not start functioning properly.”

“Once I asked my garbage collector about his irregularity and clumsy attitude in collecting our garbage. He said that he had been directed to clean four localities and it’s not possible for him to come and pick garbage from each household every single day. In this case, I feel that the subcontractors are looting money hand-in-glove along with the GMC officials. This is a serious issue which citizens across the city are facing and it’s growing with every passing day,” Wasim Habib, a resident of Machkhowa informed.

Manojit Bujarbaruah told G Plus that there are many problems prevailing in the city, one of which is the unwillingness of the citizens to pay their garbage collectors. He elaborated by saying that many a time, NGOs have complained to the GMC that people refuse to pay them – be it households or traders. Sometimes, they even refuse to give their garbage to the NGOs just to avoid paying them for the services. “Guwahatians are not cooperative, they do not participate in programs actively,” he said.

When asked about the timings allotted to the NGOs for sweeping and cleaning of the streets, he informed that the timing is 5:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Elaborating on the same, he added, “In Guwahati, there are lots of security issues.

While in many advanced cities, cleaning and sweeping is done during late night hours, the same cannot be implemented in Guwahati due to lack of streetlights and police patrolling. Most sweepers complain of rash driving at night and female sweepers also complain of drunken men behaving in unruly manner, making them feel unsafe. So, we have to allow the cleaning to happen during morning hours.”

In the same vein, Utpal Sharma Baruah, Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist, Conservancy Cell of GMC said, “It is practically not possible for our people to be present at all places at all times. It is the citizens that need to be accountable for their actions. They need to act as responsible citizens and refrain from littering the roads.”

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