Setting aside politics, the Centre and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government along with local bodies in the capital have come together on a single platform to make Delhi clean, hailed as the “true spirit of co-operative federalism” by Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today.
Naidu was speaking at the launch of ‘Swachch Delhi Abhiyan’ here, which would be observed in the city from November 22-30, seeking to make it free of garbage and construction debris.
“We should set aside politics and work together to make Delhi, which is a mini-India, clean.
“I’m delighted to be part of this initiative, where all the three levels of governance — Centre, Delhi administration and urban local bodies — have decided to work in tandem to rid Delhi of filth, garbage and other waste. This is not BJP team or AAP team but ‘Team India’.
“Our Constitution makers dreamt a federal structure and this (event) is finest example of co-operative federalism, but it should also be cooperative and competitive federalism, so that other states can take a cue from it and deliver the best,” Naidu said at the event, adding that a “new beginning has been made in politics”.
The Union minister later also handed over a cheque of Rs 96.7 crore to the Delhi government as funds from the Urban Development Ministry, which Kejriwal promptly handed over to the urban local bodies at the event.
The Delhi Chief Minister, speaking earlier, also hailed the event as “the true spirit of cooperative federalism” and said “political divisions” should not deter us from acting in public good.
“I will tell you our problem in cleaning our cities is not technicalities, but the missing political will. And, today that political will I see here, from Centre to the local bodies…. And, I credit Naiduji for the positive attitude from his side.
“I am sure, if we can work together, we can solve our problems, and people will appreciate us all,” Kejriwal said.
Under the over-arching framework of the ‘Swachch Bharat’ initiative, Delhi government had on November 16 launched the ‘Swachch Delhi App’ which allows people to take pictures and lodge complaints in connection with sanitation conditions in the city.
Senior Delhi government officials at the event announced that over 13,000 complaints have already been received at the central control room and accordingly forwarded to the respective local body.
In his address the Union minister also said that in Delhi, “1.25 lakh individual household toilets are to be built by 2019, but work in this regard is still to commence.”
He asked Kejriwal to look into this matter.
“But more than schemes and actions, we need a change in mindset of people to keep their surrounding clean. That would be out true tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th birth anniversary,” he added.
The initiative comes close on the heels of the sanitation crisis in the city after the employees of civic bodies went on strike over non-payment of salaries, an issue on which the BJP-ruled municipal corporations and AAP government had traded charges.
“A good beginning has been made in politics…,” Naidu said, referring to the the event, which was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the three city mayors and municipal commissioners, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta, senior officials from both Delhi and central governments, among others.
“For long we have been too tolerant to dirt and filth around. As a result, about two lakh people are dying every year as a consequence of poor sanitation and hygiene. It is costing an average Indian Rs 3,500 per year which translates into 6.5 per cent of the GDP.
“24 per cent of girls are dropping out of schools due to lack of toilet facilities at school and homes,” Naidu said, and cited a news report in Telugu daily which showed a log queue in a girls school.
He said the government was committed to make India free of open defecation and lend dignity to people’s lives, he said, adding while some states are performing well under ‘Swachch Abhiyan’ other are lagging behind.
At the event, the Union minister also did a virtual inauguration of a 500-tonne capacity construction and demolition waste management plant at Shahstri Park in east Delhi.
Kejriwal, pointing out issues faced in carrying out sanitation activities in the city, said, Tthe biggst problem is multiplicity of agencies. Our priority includes cleaning the city and cleaning Yamuna. But, as long as there is multiplicity, Yamuna cannot be cleaned in even 100 years.
“So like DMRC (Delhi Metro), if a special purpose vehicle could be made, it will go a long way in solving our problems and make Delhi a cleaner place, much quicker,” he said.
The Delhi chief minister said, “Cleaning a city is not rocket science. And, we may squabble over jurisdiction, but people see a lying garbage as failure of entire administration. And, therefore we should forget our political divisions and work for a better and cleaner Delhi together. We should not criticise but cooperate with each other.”
“I can assure you during this drive if there is any dispute over jurisdiction for picking up waste, we will take care of that,” he added.
Naidu also said, “We are not enemies but political rivals and we must treat each other with respect and reciprocate.”
Touching briefly on the “intolerance” issue, he said, “People’s mandate should not be questioned. BJP was given a massive mandate in Lok Sabha polls, AAP was given in Delhi elections, and so it should be allowed to function.”
He, however, immediately switched to the sanitation issue and said, “We have become very tolerant of the dirt around us, but, Gandhi through his glasses (mission’s logo) is watching us.”
“As far as the construction of community and public toilet in urban areas is concerned, the mission target is 1.04 crore toilets. The target for March 2016 is 25 lakh toilets. Against this construction of 18.69 lakh toilets has commenced and 5.91 lakh toilets have been built till October end,” Naidu said.
With regard to construction of community and public toilets, the target for the five year mission period is 2.58 lakh toilet seats. Against this, 1.30 lakh toilet seats have been sanctioned and 28,948 have so far been built, he added.
Of the Rs 96 crore being sanctioned, Naidu said, the ministry was releasing Rs 55 crore for ‘Swachch Delhi’ efforts.
He further said, “I am happy to be informed that door-to- door collection and transportation of solid waste is being done in 232 of 272 wards and 52 per cent of such waste is being processed.
“As against the target of construction of 11,138 community and public toilets, the Delhi government has reported repair and construction of 5,776 seats so far.”