Goa, with the rest of India, is observing the third anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission today. The idea behind is to send a message about the success so far of the continuing mission. Though waste in a large area has been cleared of there are still many parts in the state where garbage dumps exist. Open defecation too prevails in some parts of the state including Panaji and around. Piles of garbage seen along the roads and in open spaces in Panaji disappeared as the ‘Swachchata Diwas’ approached. By clearing the roadsides and open spaces without any additional workforce, the local self-governing bodies have proved that they can maintain cleanliness by putting in little more effort but without additional workforce. Rather than showing their excellence only on occasions like Swachchata Diwas the local bodies should maintain cleanliness on a daily basis. It remains to be seen whether the cleanliness would continue after the Swachchata Diwas, as past experiences of such drives have not been very positive.
It is a pity that the state government, which is the primary motivator and actor on the swachchta front, has not been able to clean its own departments. The conditions of a number of government offices, including the North Goa collectorate and transport and land settlement departments, are nothing but messy. It appears that the staff of these departments have not taken the cleanliness mission seriously and refused to contribute toward making it a success. As the members of the public visiting these government offices could be impressed by their cleanliness and motivated to do similar things on their own, the officials of these departments should work to maintain cleanliness. It is a practice in many government offices to dump the condemned and discarded materials at every available space and allow them to remain there as the disposal system is cumbersome. Despite the government having allowed faster process for discarding and disposal of the condemned articles, the officials somehow do not use the changed provisions in law to dispose of the articles. It is not only office files and furniture that are allowed to rot but also vehicles. Prevalence of such atmosphere in offices and on road inconveniences the office staff and general public. Should not the government ask why the process for discarding the condemned furniture was not used to get rid of unwanted goods by the heads of these departments?
Rather than launching drives on special occasions, the leaders of government and local bodies should ensure that cleanliness is a routine affair and not just meant to please the Prime Minister. Maintaining cleanliness leads to a healthy environment and prevention of spread of diseases. The public should be involved to participate in maintaining cleanliness as it is for their good. The awareness about maintaining cleanliness should be round the year and politicians and officers should play an exemplary role in being part of the routine cleanliness drives rather than posing with brooms for photographs. As maintaining cleanliness has been put on a mission mode the government should seek public participation to make it a success. It would be beyond the capacity of the staff of the local bodies to maintain cleanliness round the year without help from the public. The government should facilitate maintenance of cleanliness by designating certain spots for disposing garbage and making provisions of adequate number of bins at those spots. All attempts should be made to prevent people from dumping the garbage in open spaces or along the roadsides.
One of the things that the government and local bodies have to work on is addressing the factors that still compel a number of people, mostly migrants but also some Goans, to go for open defecation. These factors must be sorted out and toilets should be built and running water and sewage provided to all those going for open defecation. Goa could easily become number one among states in cleanliness. What is needed is zeal on the part of the heads of government and local bodies. For garbage collection, certain places should be designated and adequate bins should be placed there. The authorities also need to introduce a penalty element to deter people dumping garbage by roadside or in open spaces or in the water bodies. There is not a single case in which anyone in Goa has been booked for throwing garbage by roadside or in open spaces or water bodies. Along with resolving the constraints that compel some people to go for open defecation and designating spots for garbage collection, the authorities must also take deterrent measures in order to make the swachchta mission truly successful.