Swachh Bharat

With the Prime Minister himself taking up the broom along with his cabinet colleagues, BJP cadres and lakhs of government employees, the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign got off to an energetic start on Thursday . But a look at the jaw-dropping dimensions of the problem makes one wonder whether Modi really has a chance to meet his target to clean up India by 2019?
Here are some sobering stats. Cities generate about 47 million tons of solid waste every year or about 1.3 lakh tons every day , according to a study by Central Pollution Control Board. But this is only in cities and towns with a municipal body reporting. Another 30% of urban India lives outside these cities. If you add their garbage, the total would amount to about 68 million tons. According to a calculation done by TERI in 1998, the garbage generated till 2011 will cover 2,20,000 football fields piled 9 metres (27 feet) high with garbage. Increasing amount of garbage generation is to be expected as population and GDP grow. Nearly one third of the garbage is not collected at all —it is just left to rot in streets and alleys. So, in a year, about 14 million tons of garbage is left to rot in urban India’s streets.
The 70% that is collected is taken and dumped either in landfills or just any space available outside the main habitation. Only about 18% of the collected garbage is treated to recycle or make fuel. In other words, about 27 million tons of garbage is collected and dumped out of the city.
Since half of Indian garbage is typically organic matter which is compostable, the dumped garbage rots, gets blown around and finally decomposes and mixes with the ground. The remaining untreatable part – mainly plastics – can be seen flying around.
What this gigantic mess needs is a plan for collection, segregation, proper dumping and treatment across the country. An estimate of the urban development ministry in 2009 had put the cost for doing this at about Rs.48,582 crore.
The other dimension of sanitation is sewage or waste water disposal. CPCB estimates that in 2009, 38 billion liters of sewage was generated per day from 498 tier I cities. Installed capacity to treat this giant river of wastewater is 12 billion litres or less than one-third of the requirement. This means the re maining 26 billion liters is getting dumped into our streams and rivers daily, making many of them terminally sick.
In the four metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – of the 16 billion litres sewage generated per day, only 8 billion litres get treated. In the 410 tier II cities, about 3 billion litres of sewage was generated per day but only a tiny fraction, 0.23 billion litres, was treated.
While the Modi government is planning to build millions of toilets, there doesn’t seem to be any concrete plan or allocation for laying down sewerage networks or treatment plants. The urban development ministry had calculated in 2009-10 that it would take Rs. 2.43 lakh crore to build a suitable sewage network covering the whole of urban India. About 49% of Indians live in houses with no drains while another 33% live in houses with open drains.
Apart from garbage, this is the single biggest source of filth and the primary source of various diseases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation to Shashi Tharoor among nine select persons to act as brand ambassadors of `Swachch Bharat' campaign has triggered unease in Congress, the prime reason being the Kerala MP's effusive praise for Modi since the Lok Sabha election.
Just why the PM should single out Tharoor in the vast political class has led to speculation.While Congress did not officially react to the public invite extended on Gandhi Jayanti, party managers were wary of the in tent.
There is a realization that stopping the MP is tricky as it could lead to allegations of Congress playing politics with a noble cause.
Tharoor himself complimented the PM on the `Clean India' campaign and accepted the invite to join it. However, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Shukla said the PM should have invited all political leaders and not just one person, even though he said he did not want to read politics in it.
What makes the otherwise innocuous issue intriguing is Tharoor's `bipartisanship' since BJP's ascent to power. The MP from Thiruvananthapuram praised Modi for being “inclusive“ just a month after he took office, dubbing him Modi 2.0, forcing the Congress to dissociate itself from the certificate to the arch-rival.

No comments: