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  Home >> Cleanliness >>  Saaf Aangan initiatives



  • What you would recommend to someone who wanted to take the saaf aangan initiative for a small town in India?

    For a small town, the Saaf Aangan Rule has a greater chance of sucess for the following reasons:
    • the town being physically small, its inhabitants will know and appreciate each others' efforts. Word spreads fast of initiatives taken by people and organisations to improve the environment
    • there is a greater sense of belonging and community connect in small towns (as compared to larger cities like Mumbai which have a greater migrant or floating population, a great portion of which do not feel that they belong there, and hence spit and litter all over the place.)
    • This sense of "ownership" and "belonging" to the city is one of the intrinsic features of Saaf Aangan.
    • In a small town, one should start with the public buildings first, that can set an example for the rest of the town; the Town Hall, Schools, Colleges, etc. should first practice Saaf Aangan - student volunteers can be roped in to actually sweep the pavements, spread awareness, etc.
    • Enforcement is also relatively easier in small towns, as there is usually a better ratio of enforcing officials to the population, unlike in Mumbai where there are completely skewed numbers. for e.g.: 1 policeman for 40,000 people, and then the Police takes on additional roles of protecting politicians, film stars, Ganpati pandals and Navratri celebrations.

     What are the lessons you would share with such a person?

    From those who have practised Saaf Aangan, in Mumbai, the following lessons have emerged:
    • The first step is always informing people about the Rule, its objectives, and the fine for breaking the Rule. This step is ususally poorly communicated to the public, and hence when implementation begins, most people are unaware of the Rule.
    • The right message about the Saaf Aangan Rule (or any Rule) must be given to the public, that the Rule is meant for the overall benefit of society and not to harass citizens.(current perception of the helmet rule for 2-wheelers)
    • The officials and staff of the enforcing agency (MCGM, or Local Municipalities) must also be trained and made aware of the Rules and how to implement them, how to deal with those who break the rule, how to encourage people to participate, etc. Ususally, there is a complete disconnect between the officials at the top who issue orders to the Ward Officers (or lower officials) to implement the Rule.
    • The media must be used to highlight all aspects of the Rule, both showing examples of success stories, and showing people who have been caught and fined; this would act as a deterrant.
    • It is critical that MCGM provides supporting services and infrastructure to those who undertake Saaf Aangan; of regular sweeping and pick-up of waste, community bins, Nuisance Detectors, saplings for planting, water for cleaning, etc.
    • The initial period of "familiarisation" of the Rule will require greater efforts and inputs from both sides, government and citizens; thereafter, once the "clean and pleasant" environment has been establshed, it then requires less efforts to sustain.
    • Implementation should be done in phases, gradually expanding as capability and awareness builds up. This was tried in Mumbai, where 60 important roads (20 each in the City, Eastern suburbs, and Western suburbs) were declared "zero-tolerance zones" for litter, hawkers, etc., and on several roads, the results were clearly visible. Unfortunately, MCGM did not sustain the momentum, and neither has their cleanliness communication campaign been effectively launched yet.

    What are the pitfalls and what are the positives which will make it succeed?


    • Poor civic sense, hence a change in mindset is needed: There is a perception amongst people that it is MCGMs job to keep the city; especially since there are huge funds available, and that the responsibilty of a citizen ends when he pays his taxes.
    • Citizens and government need to come together as partners to implement this Rule and achieve succes - present environment is that citizens, media, etc are completely anti - MCGM. No doubt, citizens need to monitor MCGMs performance, etc., but continuous attacks from the side of people has made MCGM very defensive, and in such a situation, MCGM rarely behaves in a pro-active manner, and the Saaf Aangan rule requires both sides to reach out and go the extra mile.
    • "Chalta-hai" attitude needs to be overcome
    • Saaf Aangan, when implemented, will ensure that sense of ownership and belonging of people to the place where they live, work, etc.
    • People will invest a little bit of their time, energy and efforts into their city, and this investment is as important as investments of money and infrastructure.
    • other problems will be spotted, corrected, prevented e.g. leaking pipes, encroachments, dustbins, railings,

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner