A garbage dump in Guwahati. Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Guwahati Needs Urgent Attention For Survival

July 24, 2019

Guwahati, in terms of cleanliness index, is not even among the 'top 300' cities of the country; even though crores of taxpayers' money is being used for the "beautification" of the city.

The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), over the past few years, has taken up "pilot projects" to make the city "green and clean".

But the actual achievements have just been the opposite.

The Assam Tribune quoting GMC officials informed that presently Guwahati is ranked 303 out 600 Indian cities in terms of maintenance of cleanliness.

In an interview with the said newspaper, the GMC Commissioner Debeshwar Malakar says, "We have a target to come in the top 20 positions within next year. For this purpose, we have taken a number of initiatives."

So basically the GMC would try and scale 284 positions (cities) and register within the 'top 20' ranks!

The GMC, to achieve this target, has come up with a slew of activities and initiatives.

One such initiative is to 'click the violator' campaign, in which the GMC will give away a cash prize of Rs 500 if one can click someone littering the roads or violating cleanliness norms.

"To avail the reward, one has to send the photograph of the violator with the location of the incident," further writes The Assam Tribune quoting Malakar.

The GMC commissioner further informed that the identity of the informer would be kept secret and the photograph must be clear enough to identify the violator.

Once identified, the violator would be punished as per the norms of the GMC Act.

Six flying squads for maintaining cleanliness and drainage system of Guwahati have also been commissioned by the GMC.

These squads would keep an eye on the various cleanliness activities in six stipulated divisions of the city, apart from taking stringent measures against encroachment.

The initiatives sound good, but are they enough or will they yield the desired results?

Let's try and analyse a few things, the hindrances that lay ahead in the successful implementations of the projects.

Clicking photograph of a violator with proper 'face identification' is not easy.

One certainly will not carry a high-resolution camera in search of a "violator".

Most of the mobile phone cameras give good results only when a photograph is clicked with proper preparation.

To steal a click with perfection is somewhat not possible practically.

Secondly, let us assume that it is clicked in high-definition clarity, but will the person actually belong to the same locality where his photograph was clicked?

Commenting on 'click the violator' initiative, Supratim Kashyap of Zoo Road area says, "I don't think it is going to work."

"The Bharalu flows right in front of my house and my next-door neighbours every night throw their kitchen waste into the river. Now, how will I click their photographs with clarity without their knowing?" questions Kashyap.

"It will be sheer luck and coincidence if someone clicks a clear photograph of a violator," he adds further while interacting with The Story Mug.

The GMC, as per records, has assigned 31 NGOs for carrying out a door-to-door collection of garbage with the aim to segregate wet and dry wastes.

But a large number of households have not availed the service.

In some occasions, it was also observed that apart from throwing their kitchen waste a large number of families also threw their various other domestic wastes.

The government should make it compulsory for every single household in the city to have a mandatory dustbin in front of their house from where the door-to-door garbage collection can be carried out.

To achieve the GMC's goal, not just the authorities but the citizens will have to to be equally responsible to keep the surroundings clear, which most of the citizens don't!

"I know people who litter the streets willingly. 'We give Swacch Bharat Tax to the government. It is the government's duty to clean our mess. Why should we bother' is the justification these people come up with," says Pahi Sarma, a resident of Nayanpura area in Guwahati, while interacting with The Story Mug.

"People when decides to litter at will, become unstoppable and steps like 'click the violator' won't really work," she further adds on.

Cleanliness of a city is not only measured in terms of waste and garbage disposal but also on factors like proper roads, proper parking areas, proper footpaths, scientific sewer systems and others.

Talking about cleanliness, one aspect that requires serious attention is the cleaning the sewers of Guwahati along with the revival of the Bharalu along with the three rivulets- Mahabharalu, Bahini and Basista.

What are the plans to revive these?

Roads play an important role when the beautification index of a city is calculated.

However, most of the roads of Guwahati are in a dilapidated condition.

Some roads are full of mud and silt since they were dug to install water pipelines and they are left without repair.

"I live in Dakhingaon in Kahilipara area of the city. But the place looks more like a remote and interior rural area where there are no proper road communication and most importantly no proper pucca roads," bemoans Surabhi Saikia, a university student, while interacting with The Story Mug.

"The door-to-door garbage collectors should come daily. But here, due to improper roads, they come once in a week and one can imagine how would it be when garbage for a week is not collected," she further adds.

Harsh but true, Guwahatians lack the basics when it comes to cleanliness. And when we say Guwahatians, we mean everyone- right from the common street vendor to the one at the top-most position in the Government.

If they had the minimum sense of cleanliness, Guwahati would have not sunk to rank 303 from 50 in 2014-15 in terms of cleanest cities of India!

Had the denizens a bit responsible, initiatives like 'click the violator' would have not become a necessity.

It is a collective failure where both the municipality administration and the citizens are responsible for the cleanliness degradation of Guwahati.

The GMC must be realistic in setting its target.

One year or 12 months or 365 days is not realistic at all to make Guwahati clean in the truest sense!

If the corporation is aiming to achieve 'synthetic cleanliness', well then Guwahati can even reach up to the numero uno position.

The GMC may speak about a lot of 'bombastic schemes' and 'unrealistic' aims, but what it really needs urgent attention from all quarters for revival and survival.

Wake up Guwahatians! Save Guwahati!

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