Any mission or movement cannot become successful unless people participate init proactively. Swachh Bharat Mission is that one mission of recent times that has impelled people to keep their surroundings clean and feel proud. Many individual initiatives by the responsible citizens and groups of citizens have given inspiration to many others for keeping their cities, society, neighbourhoods clean
Everyone loves clean surroundings but we as citizens busy in our daily routine life hardly get time to do something about it. But no one hesitates in extending a helping hand to a running campaign for a good cause. Swachh Bharat Mission and people’s initiatives in this mission is a perfect example.
People visiting India or Indians going abroad have been witnessing the stark difference between cleanliness standards of Indian cities and cities in developed countries. They always wanted to do something for making their cities, and country clean. The government’s initiative gives a push to this desire and people have acted positively.
There are many inspirational personalities and groups of people who have brought about visible changes in the society with their initiatives
The Akshar School in Guwahati, Assam accepts plastic waste as school fees. This way, the school authorities are not just teaching children about keeping the environment clean and plastic-free but also imbibing in them a habit of recycling from an early age. To reduce the usage of plastic waste, Ashwath Hegde from Bengaluru has come up with an innovative idea and launched a line of bags that takes less than 180 days to biodegrade and dissolve in water in a few seconds. These bags are similar to plastic bags but they are made from natural starch, vegetable oil derivatives, and vegetable waste. Another youngster from Hyderabad, Prashant Lingam is using plastic waste as a construction material for building houses.
A Mumbai based NGO Mumbai Sustainability Centre (MSC) started ‘Safai Bank of India’ (SBI)in 2018. Through Safai Bank, the organization is reducing the load of millions of plastic wrappers reaching the city’s dumping grounds and landfills by collaborating with companies in the recycling business. The concept of Safai Bank is so successful that many children have become ambassadors of this bank. A young girl from Gurgaon offers muffins to anyone who brings five multi-layer plastic wrappers and deposits with her.
A citizen forum HSR Citizen Forum has developed a Composting Learning Centre – Swachagraha Kalika Kendra in Bengaluru. This initiative is supported by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). It is visualized as a live learning centre for all kinds of composting. It houses most home and community composting solutions available in the market today and many DIY composting solutions as well. One of the BBMP parks in Sector 4 has been developed to make this happen. People from different cities and even countries have visited this learning centre for introducing similar composting in their Resident Welfare Associations (RWA).
To provide a smart waste management solution working on SaaS (Software as a Service) model, Kabadiwala.com was developed by Anurag Asati, an engineer by profession. This platform is a doorstep service that works on organizing the waste sector for individual households to improve the clean environment. The platform organises collection of consumer waste through efficient & cost-effective pickups and incorporates them into the recycling/vendor network. The initiative promotes the implementation of a cashless digital transaction of wallet to earn Green Points that users could accumulate by recycling of scrap as well as create employment for the unorganized sector by “Best Out of Waste Concepts”.
Meena Patankar from Nashik city recycles old newspapers and makes stunning paper dolls that are in high demand among locals. A couple from Surat is making biodegradable sanitary pads for women. The famous dabbawalas of Mumbai also ran a seven-day drive and distributed soaps and handwash to spread awareness on the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. Another woman Shilpika Gautam took a sabbatical from her job in the United Kingdom and came to India to highlight the dismal state of the mighty river – Ganga. She paddle-boarded her way across the Ganges to raise awareness about just how plastics and filth are choking Ganga.
Community participation is a must going forward
There are many such stories of individuals who have taken initiatives to keep the environment clean by cycling hundreds of kilometers to spread awareness on sanitation and open defecation to running a persistent campaign on building toilets in every household. We have also seen hundreds of stories where local citizens have run campaigns for making their streets, parks, riverbanks, and beaches clean. There are many heroes of the Swachh Bharat story in every city of India. People have come up with many innovative and low-cost ideas that can be implemented with a little support from the local authorities and the citizens to make their cities clean.
Many of these initiatives have helped in bringing about behavioural change in public at large. The government’s campaign on Open Defecation was targeted at children who, in turn, spoke to their parents and relatives about the ill effects of open defecation. This was also done with social proofing by making open defecation not socially acceptable and eliminating present biases through successful publicity campaigns.
India has progressed in the area of sanitation and waste management under the Swachh Bharat Mission but the nation cannot stop and rest here. We have a lot of work to do to make our country clean and this will not be possible without the support from citizens and civil society. Our institute, AIILSG has also implemented several projects in different parts of the country and used innovative ways of spreading awareness. The sanitary inspector passouts from our institute are trained in developing an understanding of the intricacies of solid waste management, public psyche, behavioural change, the importance of sanitation and hygiene, etc. The institute will continue its legacy of creating an efficient workforce and help urban local bodies in making their operations efficient in the field of community sanitation.