Saturday, Oct 21, 2017 | Last Update : 02:54 AM IST
The Swachchh Bharat programme appears rudderless. Local self-government institutions like municipalities are in a state of collapse.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s exhortation for the past three years in support of his government’s Swachchh Bharat mission — a campaign to clean India — has not produced the hoped-for results. Once again on Monday, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the image of whose reading glasses was made the mascot for this campaign, the PM sought to underline the need for 125 crore Indians to lend their shoulder to the wheel for the programme to succeed.
But it is evident the government has not conceptualised the idea, not backed it with budgetary support, and not drawn up a roadmap. It’s like the PM saying — in an institutional vacuum — that crime can only be eradicated if 125 crore Indians take an oath not to break the law.
The Swachchh Bharat programme appears rudderless. Local self-government institutions like municipalities are in a state of collapse. Projects to eliminate pollution from the land surface, water bodies including the seas around us, and air, must be planned, publicised and backed with money. Building toilets is running up against water and funds shortages. Technology is not being used to clear human excreta so that human workers have to plunge into manholes, and lately many have died in the process.
Shockingly, sanitation minister Uma Bharti says officials in charge will be penalised if a worker loses his life, but she doesn’t mention technology and freeing humans from the degrading job of clearing human excreta.
From photo ops to declamation — that’s what Swachchh Bharat has unfortunately come to mean, though the programme bespeaks good sense.