Three reasons why Kasa Mukta failed

About six months ago, the Chief Minister announced, with the usual fanfare and ribbon cutting, that the city would be ‘garbage-free in 6 months’. Since then, regularly on this wall, I have been counting down the clock to this deadline. Now he’s about to give us the Christmas gift we’ve all been waiting for – one more promise to do something, probably in 6 more months.

It was always clear that this would not happen on time. But rather than be a skeptic from the beginning, I decided to wait. I even offered to help some BBMP corporators in South Bangalore run the Kasa Muktha program properly in their wards. Nothing changed. For three reasons.

(a) The tendency to equate announcements with outcomes. I wrote about this earlier. Our netas have gone from promising outcomes, and then diluted that to outputs, and then making do with mere inputs, and finally just announcements.

(b) Not actually having a plan in place before making an announcement. We tend to make the lofty statement first and then think we can work backwards from that. But it won’t do. Great outcomes are the result of the steps that add up to them, not the other way around.

(c) A bureaucracy that misleads. When some senior neta wakes up (in some cases, literally) and gets all worked up about an issue, he barks out an order to a senior officer. ”dishum-dishum-damaal, this had better happen by summer” follows. The officials, instead of explaining the complexities and governance issues involved in any making decision come true, instead say, “yes, Sir.” Partly because they sense that he will not have the patience to hear them out, and partly because they believe he will not remember it after the next nap.

What we really need is a solution to the Attention Deficit Disorder that plagues our government. Kasa Muktha will happen on its own after that.

Ashwin Mahesh
About Ashwin Mahesh 86 Articles

Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.

1 Comment

  1. Some more Masala for Ashwin.

    Recent news item in a local daily from Mysore – ‘Mysore City Corporation to provide 3 lakh dustbins…’ to citizens for helping segregation of wet waste and other wastes and for better management of solid waste in Mysore city. With this novel move MCC has put the solid waste ball squarely in the peoples’ court.. Now people respond positively and help segregate different wastes so that Namma Sundara Mysooru can, literally be a clean city minus the ugly litter. In this connection, the following suggestions may please be considered for implementation by the concerned:

    (1) MCC must instruct the Poura Karmikas not to accept the Green Bin if it contains extraneous matters like paper, glass, plastic etc., but make the residents segregate, if possible, on the spot and give only the wet waste. This way, purpose of supplying the green bin will be served. MCC must also take acknowledgements from the residents for the bins supplied to them free of cost and use it for the purpose of segregating and not to misuse the bins for storing rice/sugar/floor.

    (2) Since wet waste starts decaying fast and may prove to be a health hazard its transfer to the nearest treatment place as early as possible. Further, wet waste collected in one area must not be transported to another area as landfill which may result in creation of unhealthy atmosphere in that area. Therefore, the Poura Karmikas may be directed to transfer the waste to the nearest park/ identified treatment area to convert the same into organic manure in a scientific manner. Unhealthy habit of dumping the collected waste in the secondary bins must be totally avoided. In addition, MCC will be able to reduce considerable expenditure on transport of (either full or half-empty) secondary bins to far off places by consuming scarce fuel by age old trucks either belong to MCC or Contractors.

    (3) Old habits die hard. People may still continue to litter even after receiving the bins. For tackling such irresponsible behavior, MCC may consider enabling the Health Inspectors with digital cameras for taking pictures of residents who are littering, note their residential addresses, send notices or levy fines for the first offence and subsequent offences in a graded manner. This will definitely put a sense of fear and will act as a deterrent for willful irresponsible people.(This is akin to Traffic Police in Bangalore who are equipped with digital cameras to photograph traffic offenders, issue notices and collect fines).

    (4) At a recent meeting, the Police Commissioner has asked citizens to take photographs of traffic offenders and send the same to identify them and take further action. Similarly, MCC may also enable civil society/citizens of Mysore to take pictures of litterers and send the same to the Commissioner, MCC with full details of the address of the person for further necessary action. Word of caution: Complainants /Whistle blowers identities must be kept confident and they must be protected.

    (5) Many households in Mysore have maid servants for helping them in their daily chores. Invariably these maid servants handle various kinds of wastes and can be a great help in segregating the wastes. MCC may increase the number of awareness workshops being conducted to sensitise the maids in different areas of the city; the workshops must be made interesting through contests, games etc., and award prizes like a school bag containing slates, note books, pencils, Kannada Alphabet books etc., so that it will act as an incentive and attract them towards being responsible citizens in the process of waste management and be partners in keeping the city clean and neat. The educational kits may also help in spreading literacy.

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