India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs has issued a diktat to all companies to support the Swachh Bharat Pakhwada (fortnight) being observed from the 16th to 30th June, 2016.
The Government diktat has gone out to companies via bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and seeks `strict compliance’ and photographic evidence of action taken to be submitted by July 1. The mail has gone out from a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Company Affairs to CII and says the Swachh Bharat Pakhwada is in support of the Prime Minister’s call for a Swachh Bharat or clean India.
The diktat further lists out 15 topics to be taken up on each day, in sequence, for the Swachh Bharat Pakhwada. They range from not using plastics, PET bottles to and tissue paper to calls for writing on both sides of a paper, adopting a park, cleaning up a park and in what will surely be a blow to the business of florists, a call to not gift bouquets, instead to award a smile.
CII has said that they have extended cooperation to the government’s ‘request/suggestion’. Shefali Chaturvedi, Senior Director with the CII Foundation says they have worked extensively with the government on the cleanliness drive. “Ínitiatives like the Swachh Bharat campaign gives a certain fillip to the idea of a clean India – especially internationally and gets people talking at the very least”, she says.
Has the filip really worked? Not really…
According to the data released by MCA, for the year 2014-15, a total of Rs. 6,338 crores were spent on CSR activities by 51 Public Sector Undertakings and 409 private companies.
Out of the various subjects and activities indicated in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, Rs. 1,463 crores were spent on activities targeted at promoting education, vocational skills and livelihood enhancement.
Eradicating hunger, poverty & health care was the next favourite with a spending of Rs. 1,422 crores. Rs. 1,189 crores were spent on environment sustainability activities. Rural development projects saw Rs. 724 crores of spending. An amount of just Rs. 42.6 crores was contributed to the Swatch Bharat Kosh.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India clean and open-defecation free by 2019.
Reports show that two-years of campaigning has not moved India towards a cleaner landscape. More than half the rural population in India still opts for open defecation, says NSSO’s Swachhta Status Report. While IndiaSpend recently reported that 70% of sewage generated by Indians is randomly dumped in rivers, seas, lakes and wells, polluting three-fourths of the country’s water bodies.
Is this new notice, a way of moving things forward on the Clean India mission or just cosmetic action?
This diktat comes a month after Central government employees too were subject to this fortnight-long cleanliness drive.
All ministries of the Central government were asked to organise a series of activities like ‘mass pledge on swacchta’ by the employees, cleanliness drive, carrying out inspection and repair work of all sanitary facilities in office premises, weeding out of old files, disposal of old items including furniture, machines and vehicles, and conducting pest control during the May17-31.
Rail ministry officials were tasked by Minister Suresh Prabhu to check station premises to ensure that they are clean or rather Swachh. The other ministries did even less, with the Central Public Works Department removing old and unused furnitures and other items from government buildings. The Airports Authority of India’s Swachh Bharat Pakhwada included a pledge taking ceremony for ‘Mission Swachh Bharat’ and the resolution to dedicate two hours every week to the cleanliness drive.
Why Is India Unclean? (A-Swachh)
India’s lack of cleanliness can be blamed on the gargantuan amounts of garbage being generated daily and the lack of facilities for its disposal. India alone, generates 0.14 million tonnes of garbage daily of the world’s 4.7 million tonnes.
Landfills in cities like Mumbai are well past their age and capacity and hence garbage is now found everywhere – on road corners, footpaths, outside homes and on railway tracks. Out of the 83% of municipal waste that is collected just 29% of solid waste is treated.
Will India’s corporate sector have to bear the burden for change ?
Chaturvedi sums up, “There are various ways in which we can try to make India clean. CII is making it easy for companies to do more towards it and our work over the last two years shows that if projects are undertaken by involving a whole community – change though slow, is possible.”