Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: no-show in Jammu

Anurag Sharma
The initiatives taken by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have shown no sign of improvement for Jammu’s sanitary woes. Languishing at the 251st position in the Swachh Survekshan of 2017, the city still paints a pathetic picture in this avenue.
The city’s 12 lakh denizens generate approximately 400 tonnes of solid waste daily, with one-fourth of it going down the drains. Further, there is no regular removal of solid waste, especially that generated by eateries and restaurants. Heaps of garbage, stagnant water and blocked drains in every part of the city tell a tale of neglect and indifferent attitude of the authorities and residents, who dump the waste on roads without giving any consideration.
The latest ranking, although, is miles ahead of last year’s 434th, the living conditions, in reality, are akin to that of a garbage dump. Jammuites are extremely callous about waste segregation, even at the disposal stage. So much so, that solid waste is directly thrown into water drains. This practice makes the problem of waste handling all the more complicated, apart from clogging the drains.
Anita Salgotra, Heath Officer at JMC, cites the people’s unawareness about the campaign as the primary reason behind the mess that Jammu currently lies in. Cleanliness, she says, is less about provisions of dustbins, and much more about the people’s attitude in ridding the city of garbage.
The Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) seems to have kicked into action now, organizing various events and promotional drives. An example of this can be seen at the Maheshpura locality (Bakshi Nagar), where it has provided household bins to segregate the waste. The organization’s initiatives appear to have coincided with the efforts to make it a ‘Smart City’. But, leaving alone household bins, there are not even enough garbage bins around the city, resulting in people dumping their daily trash at a common site.
Unfortunately, Jammu is presently one of those cities which fare very poorly in terms of the cleanliness index, consequently remaining largely prone to epidemics and very low standards of living. There are clearly no visible signs of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan working in the city, although the rate of its awareness is slowly on the rise. The authorities really need to be on their toes in this regard, if they are to initiate a 180-degree turn from the city’s currently poignant state.
Lower-income areas bearing the brunt
The situation is far worse in what are considered to be the ‘cash-strapped’ areas of the city. The people living in these areas are barely aware of the Prime Minister’s grand cleanliness drive. Most of them only associate the campaign with Modi himself.
Valmiki Colony, for instance, lies in close proximity to the posh Gandhi Nagar, but still reeks of stench upon entering. Cramped with extremely small houses, there are absolutely no dustbins around for the people to throw their waste into. The areas where a garbage bin does exist are actually overflowing or placed at places from where it cannot be lifted.
The Bari Brahmana area, located on the outskirts of the city, is even worse off. Dotted with industries all around, it has permanently stagnant pools of water laced with industrial waste. They have stray animals scavenging on it, and such is the stink that one cannot stand there even for two minutes. This is also one of the places where, respondents claim, ‘the ministers come, and pretend to initiate measures for cleanliness’.
The situation improves just a bit in Rajeev Nagar and Qasim Nagar. Some parts of both the areas have seen cleanliness-related initiatives. But, the initiatives are too irregular, untimely and uncertain. So, to consider them as something substantial would certainly be an overstatement.
Most people agree with the fact that the media is doing a fine job in spreading awareness about the campaign, but cite initiation and promotion of cleanliness as something that is upto one’s own conscience. Also, the general notion points the barrel at the ineptness of the authorities in reaching out to the lowermost strata of the society. This is the same populace which takes the lion’s share of the blame for the present state of an ‘unclean India’.


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