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A roadmap to clean India


Road trips have gained popularity nowadays; a lot of people are either going on trips with their friends or family, or are opting to go on solo road trips.  An eGovernment consultant by profession, Sangeetha Sridhar from Coimbatore decided to take her trip a step further. Currently touring across India in her SUV, her ‘Clean India Trail’ is about promoting cleanliness.

“The ‘Clean India Trail’ seeks to promote the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission along the ‘Bharat Mala’ route (A project by the Government of India to develop new road and highways in urban and rural areas) driving in a ‘Made In India’ vehicle. The trail aims to cover various villages, towns, talukas, cities and states including the UNESCO sites. The whole drive is to ensure that sanitation facilities in those routes are adequate,” she explains.

Thus, as part of the initiative she checks out how waste management is handled in a city and if there are public toilets in required areas. “I also address students in schools and initiate the idea of a clean India with them by explaining how to reduce plastic and personal waste, and to maintain hygiene,” she says.

Before making it to Goa, Sangeetha covered a distance of 45000 kilometres where she crossed various heights and topographic areas of India withstanding various climatic conditions. In fact she crossed around top 10 Himalayan mountain points and various borders. “My initial target was 29,000 kilometres but I managed 47,000 kilometres which was 29 states and 5 union territories. During this period I was to do auditing of 100 toilets. However I have crossed the number and so far done 225 toilet audits,” she says. The audits were carried out according to the ACASAN international toilet mobile app especially designed with GPS system which captures image of the inside and outside of public toilets without any violation and then submits a report about the same.

Speaking about her Goa experience, Sangeetha states that she realised that garbage dumps along the roads were a serious problem for the state. “Along the state and national highways you can find waste accumulated. Construction material waste has been haphazardly dumped on the roads which makes the roads looks shabby,” Sangeetha says.

Complimenting the locals for adopting an organic approach towards garbage management, she further states that it is easy to explain waste management to the locals. The problem however lies in keeping a track of the activities of tourists.

She suggests installing CCTV at various garbage dump points. “We need to first identify which are the areas where the waste is accumulated the most. After identification the authorities can from time-to-time clear up the area rather than letting it lay open for long. Also, installing CCTV can be of great help as violators can be punished for their offence and no one will dare to throw garbage in open,” she says.

Nonetheless, Goa is still a beautiful place for Sangeetha as it was for her 20 years back when she visited it. “I came here after 20 years to see a radically different Goa. Today, tourists have started respecting Indian culture without causing any inconvenience to the people. All the beaches are safe for family visits,” she adds.

Sangeetha also believes that India is safe for women. “I can say this because I have travelled alone in my SUV through the places I never heard or knew about. I spoke to people, interacted with them, learnt about their culture and food,” she says.

Convincing people to re-style their lifestyle and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle however was not easy. “Sensitising is quite hard, it takes several attempts. Explaining to the young is easier, as it’s easy to develop a sense of cleanliness in them. We need to make people realise that personal waste is what they need to get rid of first which they can do easily by reducing plastic and doing away with packaged products,” says Sangeetha who admitted that she spent 12 lakhs for the entire trip. “I wish to invest the expenses in my brand new India so that on Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, everyone can proudly say that India is safe for everyone including women who want to go on a solo trail.”


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