GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 3rd Oct. On 1st Oct at 10 am, the journey of Swachh Bharat witnessed a new history being scripted. Crores of citizens came forward to offer voluntary shramdaan in a mega cleanliness drive across the nation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the popular fitness influencer Ankit Baiyanpuriya for the shramdaan.
He tweeted, “Today, as the nation focuses on Swachhata, Ankit Baiyanpuriya and I did the same! Beyond just cleanliness, we blended fitness and well-being also into the mix. It is all about that Swachh and Swasth Bharat vibe!”
Owned and led by the citizens, this mega cleanliness drive has seen participation from all States & UTs, villages and cities. The aggregates indicate the participation of nearly 8.75 crore people participation in over 9 lakh sites.
Cleanliness drives were taken up on streets, highways and toll plazas railway tracks & stations, toll plazas, health institutions, anganwadi centres, heritage and tourist locations, residential colonies, water bodies, places of worship, slums, market areas, airports and surrounding areas, zoos and wildlife areas, gaushalas etc.
The collective effort of people on 1st Oct, at 10 am, resulted in the cleaning of approx. 1.5 lakh sq kms of area (more than the size of countries like Greece and England)!
During this 1 hour, people also cleaned approx. 1.2 lakh kms of length which translates to 30 trips from Kashmir to Kanyakumari!
On this day of many firsts, the mega cleanliness drive across the nation got an impetus with sanitation being the great unifier for the nation, transcending Panchayats, Municipalities, districts and State boundaries.
Many Governors, Chief Ministers along with local political leadership joined along with thousands of civil society organizations and public. Jawans, civilians, NCC, NSS & NYK volunteers, SHGs, NGOs, RWAs, market associations, industry bodies, faith leaders, celebrities, influencers, YouTubers, artists etc. teamed up for the mega initiative.
Sulabh International Social Service Organisation led around 50,000 citizens to clean up 1000 public toilets.
The network of Amritanandamayi institutions along with the residents and devotees performed a clean-up in various areas. Volunteers of Isha Foundation cleaned streets, colonies, toilets in rural villages near the centre.
Baba Ramdev Yogapeeth along with 30,000 citizens conducted cleanliness drives in over 1000 locations including parks, residential areas and highways.
Hundreds of volunteers of ISKCON got together to clean roads. CREDAI, CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, Britannia, Bajaj, Aditya Birla, Amazon, etc also participated.
Celebrities like Amitabh Bachhan, Rajinikanth, Ilaiyaraaja, members of the Indian Cricket team and many others joined to encourage the public mobilization.
Many like Ricky Kej, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Rajkummar Rao even joined the action on ground. Organisations like Waqf Board, Gurudwara volunteers, Rotary club, Aga Khan Foundation, Ramakrishna Mission etc. also partnered.
Sector partners like BMGF, USAID, UNICEF, GIZ amongst others also joined the cleanliness drives.
Various organizations under the Central Government ministries came forward with unique activities. Union ministers joined the shramdaan at various sites too.
The ‘whole of govt approach’ resulted in smooth facilitation for the shramdaan volunteers at lakhs of sites at the same time. There was a sense of achievement when small groups of dedicated volunteers were able to clean up their chosen sites.
The role of Panchayats, urban local bodies & district administration was more of a facilitator.
This incredible hour saw people and civil society organizations taking initiatives for garbage collection, transportation, safe disposal etc. Each of the shramdaan site was organized by adopting principles of zero waste and plastic free.
After the Call to Action by the Hon’ble Prime Minister during the 105th Mann Ki Baat on 24th Sept, 2023, the Mission swiftly created an enabling technology infrastructure, where people could register, identify and select their preferred site for shramdaan.
A robust backend infrastructure was also put in place, allowing city officials, civil society organisations, corporate bodies etc., to register.
Garbage vulnerable sites were identified and uploaded on portal which helped public to select and join sites of their choice.
On the day of shramdaan they could also upload their pictures and get certificate of participation.
As essential in any social behavior change campaign, simple and uniform messages informing public about the initiative and appealing for their participation was adopted across villages and towns.
The momentum was built across the country using a mix of local inter-personal communication, digital media, social media, and other innovative means of communication.
This collective action of people certainly resulted in visible cleanliness in all sites. In the 9 years of Swachh Bharat Mission, people have come together on numerous occasions, highlighting the strength of collective efforts.
An effort of this kind of such a large number of people coming together at a single hour for a single cause to offer voluntary effort for cleaner nation, is certainly one of its kind.
As the journey continues under Swachh Bharat Mission-2.0, this kind of collective action will certainly boost the strength of action for ‘Garbage-Free Cities’ by 2026 by adoption of scientific waste management and remediation of legacy dumpsites.