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December 10, 2015

Swachh Bharat’s success lies in trusting the town councils


Meeta Rajivlochan writes in this Hindustan Times article: "the key to the success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is building trust in the willingness of the town councils to deliver sanitation services, especially in poorer areas. This was the finding of a survey done recently of efforts by smaller towns to clean themselves up. When town councils took the initiative to keep the city clean, people joined in eagerly."


"The common feature about these towns was that elected leaders made a decision to de-politicise cleanliness services. After that they made efforts to build trust in their ability to deliver. How did they do so? First by maintaining complete transparency in working and informing people what they were going to do. Bidding procedures were open and fair."


"....the councils set up accountability systems. Waste collection vehicles were monitored through GPS devices. Biometric attendance systems for employees were set up. A toll-free number was introduced for complaints. Nodal officers were designated to respond to complaints within 24 hours. Secondly, these councils made special efforts to clean up poorer areas. Poor colonies have narrow lanes and karmacharis are reluctant to go into those lanes to clean. But these councils made the effort and the dividends were enormous."


"These councils did not require extra funds to clean up their towns, merely a commitment from the political leadership. While building roads and water supply systems are tangible goods, cleanliness seems to be an intangible good. Yet, where people wish to, they can clean up their cities. For many months now all we have heard are exhortations to people to be clean."


".....Cleaning that rubbish is the responsibility of the town council. For a social norm to evolve that says “Do Not Litter”, we need to see a city that mostly remains clean so that the litter becomes an eyesore. This is something only local governments can achieve."


Read the entire article here.

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