It’s often nice to look back into the past and feel a sense of pride. Remember how they tidied the streets for IFR? How walls got a fresh coat of paint? Remember how the GVMC cleaned the streets in record time? And the best of all was our ranking. Vizag being ranked as the fifth cleanest city of India came as wonderful news. And we took to social media to ensure that the whole world knew!
Coming back to the present, can the city boast of the same level of cleanliness? Are the streets, sidewalks and parks litter-free? Is the beach as clean as it was back then? While those in governance had provided the citizens of Vizag with a clean slate, did we manage to make it cleaner or muck it up carelessly? The VUDA VC, in his interaction with Yo! Vizag stated that the civic sense of cleanliness has to either be enforced with threats like in Singapore or be inculcated from within like in Japan. According to him, in addition to the government’s efforts at sanitation, public participation is equally essential. Moving forward, a tougher task lies ahead of us. We need to see to it that the good from the past is carried forward. Along with maintaining that cleanliness we have to aim higher. And as the GVMC Commissioner stated, we have to set our sights at the Number 1 slot. Sustainable means for garbage disposal have to be found. The tendency to carelessly throw garbage around – on the streets, out of vehicles, on the beach – just anywhere, has to be thwarted. Swacch Bharat ideologies have to be actually implemented with follow-up action.
Is all this possible through government action alone? Is cleanliness and sanitation only the government’s headache? Or do we need people participation to achieve that goal as well? And yes, if we’re working as a team then what should our individual roles be? It’s not an easy question, with plenty of overlap between our perceived roles and responsibilities. Vizagites voice their opinions.
During IFR, our city saw a commendable effort by the GVMC and workers were found on their toes, cleaning up the city on a timely basis. Today, however, the situation isn’t the same, and not only has the promptness of GVMC workers reduced, there aren’t enough dustbins around the city too! Though our recently beautified city does look clean when compared to yesteryears, the cleanliness levels have definitely taken a negative turn post January. If we want to get to the No.1 spot, not just the government, but people need to be involved as well. The importance of cleanliness and hygiene should be highlighted for the public through campaigns and rallies. The government should ensure that there are sufficient dustbins. While there are people who do not want to litter the city, we must understand that not all of them will be ready to take that effort if they do not find convenient ways to dispose their waste. Schools can be targeted to promote cleanliness in the city. Students can be given innovative projects to ensure that they keep their surroundings clean. Little efforts like maintaining separate dustbins for recyclable and non-recyclable waste can go a long way.
Small and efficient is any day better than big and messy. This is quite true when it comes to Vizag. Though not as big as the other cities, it surely is a surprisingly clean city on the east coast, despite having one of the oldest ports in India and a very active steel plant. IISc has predicted that major cities like Bangalore will be unliveable in the next five years. Also cities like Mumbai are suffering from air pollution because of dump-yard fires. However, Vizag is one of the cleanest and greenest cities that is soon to become a smart city. The government has done a great job cleaning it up and maintaining it despite municipality strikes and the devastating cyclone that made the city look like a scene from an apocalypse themed movie. Vizag can achieve the top spot if people work along with the government in keeping the city clean, simply by not littering and not urinating in public. Our government can follow the example of other cities that have imposed a fine on public littering and dumping.
Post January, the city has generally stayed clean. But the GVMC should take care that the planted green saplings are watered properly. We have seen many trees dry up because of the lack of proper maintenance. While the ranking is not important, we should focus on keeping the initiative taken up by the government active. Also, the government should also take more initiatives for sanitation with installation of more e-toilets and dustbins. Finally, people should participate with initiatives in their colonies and localities to make this movement successful.
CEO & Managing Partner, Alliance Infrastructure and Realty
Vizag is undoubtedly one of the cleanest cities in India. However, we cannot afford to be complacent and the good work needs to be sustained. The civic administration needs to focus on few things. It needs to maintain the standards in the already clean areas, clean up the remaining localities especially those close to slums and dumping grounds, and, introduce the culture of garbage segregation into organic and non-organic waste. Each citizen can participate in regular cleanliness drives that can be organised at the colony or apartment level. Each working day, half an hour can be set apart in schools, colleges and offices so that students and employees can devote the time to cleaning up their places of study and work. Cleanliness drives should be incorporated as part of the regular working hours and should not be forcibly imposed on certain days, which reduces them to photo-ops. It is very important for our mindsets to change and we must remember not to litter or deface our surroundings. For far too long, we have gotten used to dirtying places and then expecting others to clean up after us. We need a stringent system of punishment for trespassers but this will take time and thorough planning. The best way would be to convince ourselves that Swacch Bharat is more than photo-ops and unless Bharat is clean and healthy, all our efforts to be a developed nation shall go in vain. At a time when we are already being plagued by pollution concerns, lack of hygiene can spell doom for the country.
Dr. Rositta Joseph, Asst. Professor, GITAM University
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