The Need to Create a Culture of Cleanliness
As if to test the impact of the recent cleanliness drive which was carried out by various organisations, groups, educational institutions and government departments from across the state with main focus on curbing plastic waste, the skies opened up and wrecked havoc especially in the urban areas. When the rains could have been of help to the movement by washing away the dust besides bringing the temperatures down, it exposed human carelessness instead. Several parts of the state’s commercial hub Dimapur witnessed floods after just a few hours of rain and garbage, including plastic items could be seen strewn on the roads. It exposed poor infrastructure and lack of administrative preparedness as well as poor civic sense from the part of the general public.
Floods in most urban areas are closely associated with human illegal encroachment, settlement in low-lying areas and poor hygiene as waste especially plastic items causes water clogging, and Nagaland is no exception. In fact, the state which recorded highest urbanisation rate in the country during the last two census of India — 2001 and 2011 — has seen many natural calamities in the past few decades. Sensing rapid urbanisation in the state, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recently stressed on the urgent need to have a new perspective in providing urban amenities to the urban dwellers. He added that half of Nagaland would be living in towns and cities in the next two decades if the rate of urbanisation continues to increase at the present pace. This calls for an urgent need for proper town planning to ensure that demographic explosion does not lead to common urbanisation problems like pollution, poor sanitation, water shortage, etc. If there is no concrete planning in place, more man-made disasters will raise in urban areas as population will keep increasing besides extreme weather caused by climate change.
While urbanisation offers economic opportunities to the people besides convenience of goods and services, its impact on the environment is colossal. Most urban areas in developing countries produce more waste than it can manage. Owing to this issue, the Government of India decided to fight solid waste on a war footing even though it had to invest huge amount of money to create awareness among the people. Cleanliness drive was conducted across the country on October 2, commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It was encouraging to see people cutting across party lines clean public offices, footpaths etc. during the occasion, but the big question is whether they will continue to keep such places clean in the days to come. If the people forget “cleanliness” after October 2 and things fall back to square one, the whole effort of the government, including the money spent on conducting hundreds of awareness programmes will go to waste. Whether or not the government takes up mass cleanliness drive, the people should embrace it and make it as part of their culture, because cleanliness should not be a one-day affair but an everyday affair.