Cleanliness – A Collective Responsibility
It came as no surprise when Nagaland’s two major urban centres — Kohima and Dimapur — featured in the list of India’s dirtiest cities with population ranging from one to 10 lakh. The results of Swachh Survekshan 2020 (Cleanliness Survey 2020), which was recently announced by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, was an eye-opener for India as well as Nagaland state, as the poor performance of even relatively developed cities indicated that things are not as rosy as it looks from the outside. Being a participant in the National Smart Cities Mission, visible changes may have been seen in Kohima, in terms of road and other infrastructure, but it still has a long way to go when it comes to cleanliness, especially in solid waste management and door-to-door collection of garbage. Citizens still complain of waste being strewn on the roadside and household waste being released into the streams during the rainy season. There is no sewer system in the state capital, and it is not feasible too due to the hilly terrain, so it is imperative to improve septage management. Dimapur, the commercial hub of the state, no doubt lags behind Kohima in terms of sanitation. It generates tonnes of waste daily and the Dimapur Municipal Council has been visibly struggling to manage the waste with the public not giving much co-operation. Pavements in several locations were laid during the past couple of years and waste bins installed at many strategic junctions but the streets are strewn with waste products, streams that run across the city are no different. Nothing much has changed despite massive cleanliness drives being carried out by the DMC, civil society organisations and students over the last few years. The door-to-door garbage collection, which was initiated by the DMC, too didn’t help much; and this indicates that something is amiss and so, much needs to be done to come out of this dirty list.
Interestingly, smaller towns in the state performed well in cleanliness rating with Mokokchung being declared the cleanest among cities with population ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 in the Northeast region; Chümoukedima announced as best self-sustainable city; and Pfutsero as best city in innovation and best practices in the Northeast. The dirtiest cities tag on two major urban centres should not dampen the spirits of the people, but rather take it as a challenge to improve. We should learn a lesson or two from the success stories of Mokokchung, Chümoukedima and Pfutsero, and strive for better. Initiatives like door-to-door garbage collection, installation of waste bins at market places etc. being taken up in cities and towns are vital to maintain sanitation but it will be of no use if people don’t make good use of such facilities. Government, municipal corporations and the citizens share equal responsibility in keeping towns and surroundings clean. Cleanliness is a collective responsibility. We should make cleanliness a way of life and not something to be practised only for a specified period of time. It should begin at home and practised wherever we are.