Two years over. Whither Swachh Bellanduru?

On 2nd October 2014, Prime Minister Modi launched Swachh Bharat Mission in India as a national movement. Bengaluru that was buzzing with waste management activities joined the bandwagon. But three years down the line, the problems still exist. We still face many challenges.

Garbage dumping in Junnasandra lake and example of a black spot

Bellandur lake catches fire due to illegal dumping Feb 2017

Our lakes continue to be the victims of trespassing, sewage and more. At this point, we the residents of Bellandur area have these questions:

Have the MLA and Corporator led from the front to stop the above issue?

  • Is this not part of Swachh Bharath Abhiyaan ?

  • How are they helping the PM to achieve his goal?

  • Don’t they need to lead the way here?

– They have all the power and resources to solve any problem. They just have to make up their mind.

Has the BBMP administrator owned or shown accountability to solve the problems?

“I have outsourced this to the contractor, it is not in my hands, he is not doing his job, I am helpless” is what the commissioner will say – that is perception people get. But even if it is an outsourced activity, accountability lies with the commissioner to ensure the system is always working. He has power to fix this.

Have the residents of Bellandur been sensitive to this issue and joined hands with the volunteers struggling to find a way? In spite of being aware of the issues, are we managing our own waste responsibly, through segregation and composting?  Do we care to influence others to bring about the change? Do we care enough to join the volunteers to support them by just participating in their campaign? Why is the segregation status just 40% in our ward?

This article Bellandur Garbage Crisis, Why the mess? was reported in January 2017, and raised questions on how our hard-earned money is spent by the administration to clean up the waste that we generate. This I am sure is the situation in many other areas in Bengaluru.

Now we are in May 2017. The volunteers working passionately and tirelessly have done everything in their capacity to reach out to the elected representatives, BBMP stakeholders including the BBMP contractors and PKs to understand the problems. Every problem has been analysed and discussed over 100 times but we still do not see a real intent by the administration to take charge here and solve the problems.

Currently it is a bottoms-up approach. Volunteers are running from pillar to post, working with pourakarmikas, health inspectors, AE, AEE, corporator, chief engineer etc.  This is simply not working, AE/AEE/HI are not able to cope or understand or execute grand plans as they are neither empowered nor have the capacity to lead the execution. They have simple method to assess the progress – if they see nobody calls them and complain everything is going well.

Our experience shows that only 5-10 % people complain, the rest resort to dumping. In most of the areas, people are not even aware that they are entitled for garbage collection. Why will they complain?

We need a mixed approach now: top-down and bottom-up approach, led from the front MLAs, Corporators, BBMP Chief Engineers and supported by the enthusiastic volunteers and the residents. This calls for a special effort from all stakeholders in the chain. If one of them backs off the synergy is broken and the whole system breaks down.

We do have solution to every problem, the intent and the accountability is simply not there, dumping the accountability to lowest levels in the value delivery will never work. The focus should be on the problem and not the solution, because unless we have garbage management initiative led by the elected bodies and highest authorities, all grand plans will go in vain.

Like our PM, I am hopeful our MLAs and officials will lead from the front. Nothing is impossible if you have the will to do it. The choices we make will determine the success of the campaigns.

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