CLEAN CITIES, WITH THE MEDIA’S HELP Mrs Almitra H Patel, Member Supreme Court Committee for Solid Waste Management Advisor, Clean Jharkhand Project email@example.com
India is blessed with a powerful and free press, radio & TV It is believed and trusted by the citizens. So it can play an important role in supporting President Kalam’s efforts to improve India’s self-esteem and provide positive role-models for our youth.
In many progressive Indian cities, the media has changed public indifference to filth and inefficiency. This is most successful when highlighting small and large successes of individuals and neighbourhood civic experiments.
BBC’s program showing door-to-door waste collection in Bangalore captured public imagination. It inspired many neighbourhood groups all over India to copy this pattern and get rid of unsightly waste-bins on streets. It is catching on in Ranchi too, through Pocket Development Committees (PDCs)
GOOD NEWS SELLS !! This was the most important message of the BBC program and others like it. Encouraging good efforts has now become acceptable, even fashionable. Reporters find that they need not be always critical, always negative, in order to impress their bosses and their readers with their impartiality.
Positive News helps enormously Kottayam’s 100%-Literacy success is the best example. The District Collector, Mr K J Alphons, got a quarter-page on page one of every local paper for his daily human-interest stories on newly-literate drop-outs, adults, grandmothers, which the public eagerly awaited.
Mumbai’s ALMs are also a media-assisted movement Over 400 “Zero-Waste” colonies with Advanced Locality Management have sprung up after the pioneers’ successes were featured and new ones regularly high-lighted.
ALMs first beautify, then clean up, then locally compost, their area wastes. “Wet” food wastes are daily collected door-to-door, and composted in neat sites. “Dry” recyclable waste is sold or given as “kooda-daanam” to poor rag-pickers weekly, at the doorstep.
Ahmedabad’s SEWA is famous too There, rag-pickers have formed a large cooperative for organised and punctual weekly door-to-door waste collection. They also have their own savings and loan “bank” for micro-credit to coop members.
Terrace-gardens grown on food wastes have also been highlighted. This has made it possible for Pune to insist on vermi - composting arrangements in every group of high - rise apartments before completion certificates are issued. This is impossible without media support.
Bangalore features 1 Ward a week Plus and minus points of the area’s infra- structure are highlighted. A popular Box features the positive efforts and achievements of one outstanding hard- working citizen working for civic issues. This has inspired otherwise passive and silent citizens to improve their areas too.
Ranchi already has 49 PDCs, all started by word-of-mouth demand. An entrepreneur is cleaning 7 areas since 7 years, without publicity. A street market plans self-help clean-up. Local waste-points may soon be bio- sanitised & odour-free as in Jamshedpur.
All this is enough material for a story a week on local achievers in Ranchi and Jharkhand These can convince the public that it is more profitable to be pro-active and get involved in a Clean City movement, than to simply criticise non-performance while paying for it in doctors’ bills and absenteeism from school and work.