Many government-owned and administered buildings rely more than they should on portraying cleanliness than actual hygiene.
A ‘Swachh-er Bharat’ perhaps; but not quite. At least that is what meets the eye if one takes on the task of conducting a reality check on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationwide cleanliness initiative — that too in his government’s own backyard.
With a little over a month to go till its first anniversary, government employees, residents and local maintenance workers claim that things have gradually changed for the better since October 2 last year, which is when the Swachh Bharat initiative was announced by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort during his maiden public address after being elected.
A closer look, however, reveals that while that might be true, many government-owned and administered buildings rely more than they should on portraying cleanliness than actual hygiene.
The Hindu visited many such establishments including the Delhi Secretariat under the Aam Aadmi Party-led government to the centrally-administered departments under Union Ministries. The shortcomings were the same — a propensity to hide garbage in plain sight by stashing it away at the nearest parking lot, and an acute shortage of dustbins.
“It’s somewhat like the way Connaught Place was made ready almost overnight before the Commonwealth Games in 2010,” said an NDMC official on condition of anonymity.
“Except for a few, not many government buildings have designated garbage collection points or dustbins. Since we are supposed to ensure that there is no visible garbage on the streets, we move the garbage to a nondescript location,” he added.
At Shastri Bhawan, which had, by far, the seemingly most efficient garbage collection and disposal mechanism system in place, the dustbins were full but not overflowing. This, while a contingent of safai karamcharis was readying for the next shift that was still four hours away. The surrounding area was clean, except for traces of mostly vegetable garbage here and there.
“Sir, this garbage is not from our dhaba,” said an attendant when asked why a mound had collected outside his small establishment on Raisina Road. “Other people just see garbage collected here and leave theirs too. But don’t worry, it will be cleaned very soon. This is a daily affair,” he added.
At Valmiki Sadan, located next to the Mandir Marg police station where the programme was flagged off last year, and is home to an estimated 250 to 300 families that comprise 1,000 to 1,200 people, the main streets are generally clean. This is with the exception of some animal excreta in the area. Local residents, however, say the situation is better than last year.
The main roads catering to both the CGO and the Scope Complex were deceptively clean till, of course, one ventured into the parking lots that were littered with fresh garbage collected from both earlier during the day, and which would only be added to as the day progressed.
The lane between the Hanuman Mandir and Connaught Place police station was dirty to say the least. An unofficial dumping ground has come into existence here with vile smells emanating from it. The immediate vicinity of the police station, however, was spick and span.
The Lodhi Colony police station, which is close to the India Habitat Centre and the India Islamic Centre, and has served as a spot for many Swachh Bharat photo opportunities had similar stashes of garbage stowed near the parking areas.