“By lifting what is left behind or thrown carelessly by one, will only persuade the defaulter psychologically in not repeating the act again. This is a silent crusade where nothing is spoken to the defaulter and at the same time the message is conveyed.”– Minister of Tourism Subodh Kant Sahai
India is an ideal destination for tourists across the world “but the unhygienic surroundings around popular destinations have created a negative impact of the places and the country as a whole”, said the Minister during a workshop organised to brainstorm the action plan for Campaign Clean India.
An independent study conducted on some of the destinations has highlighted factors like poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, ineffective solid waste management systems and lack of hygienically maintained public amenities as impediments in boosting tourism in India.
Keen on making India the ultimate destination for tourism, the Ministry of Tourism is assessing various models of cleanliness and hygiene with a functional mandate under the Campaign Clean India. The success of this campaign will help achieve the targeted growth rate of 12% in the tourism sector during the 12th Five Year Plan.
“To begin with, 30 to 40 tourist destinations would be identified. The destinations can be broadly categorised into inbound tourist places and domestic tourist places, which are mostly religious places where the human traffic is much higher and require frequent cleaning every 10 minutes. We will be first looking at inbound tourist destinations.
“We are not claiming to clean up the entire city or town which have these destinations. We will begin with the approach roads leading from the airports, railway stations and bus stations to the destinations and areas around the sites like the bathing area, shopping area, etc. In fact, when the main roads are clean people will get motivated and make efforts to keep the adjoining smaller road too clean. There should be a holistic and focussed approach to cleaning involving people right from the street vendor to the corporate council, public sector and other organisations around these destinations and even educational institutions that can partner in the cleaning task.
“The project should not only be on a mission mode. I have seen children working with dedication and there are some people who take up cleaning late in the night. These kinds of activities are more of a mission. But the project model we are discussing takes into consideration the economic aspects as well. Take for example, in Varanasi, the road leading to the Vishwanath Temple from the railway station has several shops. All these shopkeepers can be made partners in cleaning. If there are 100 shops, a collection of `10 from each shop amounts to `1000 which should be utilised in paying a worker who will be appointed to clean up the frontage of the shops. To implement this project, schools and NGOs can be motivated to convince shopkeepers to contribute a fixed amount and get certified as a partner of ‘Incredible India!’
“There has to be a payment model when involving an organisation, individual or an NGO. The contract cleaners like the ones engaged by the Municipal Corporations for handling garbage should be engaged in this project too and the money collected can be utilised in paying these contractors. In creating this ‘share’ methodology, we need manpower to motivate the various stakeholders. It is not physically possible for each one of us to go to all the destinations.
Hence, local institutions should be participating in reaching out to the shopkeepers & house owners, explaining the plan of action to them, working out a budget, briefing the district administration on the execution and in making everybody feel as partners. This will in turn generate business for everyone and help the growth of economy without much fuss.
“We are facing issues of unclean surroundings because big corporate houses that have constructed temples, have not allotted budget for long term maintenance. They have invested heavily in making temples, but today there are garbage dumps around them. In my opinion, the local businessmen, as part of their corporate social responsibility should take up cleaning of temples like the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. Others can contribute as partners. And this should be done professionally.”
“We want to carry out the action plan with involvement of both the public and private sectors in keeping our monuments, beaches, stations, bus stops and other destinations clean.”
The Minister is very clear that the pattern of sharing responsibility and revenue can be an effective one. While infrastructure around the destinations will be provided by the Government, the maintenance has to follow the partnership model. “By involving people like the Ambanis at the top and the street vendors at the bottom, even if we are able to implement the project of cleaning one street, we can set the road map for cleaning similarly at other tourist destinations.”
Cleaning has to be an on-going process round the clock. It may require development of software which monitors the cleaning pattern, the results achieved in terms of cleanliness and also the responses from stakeholders.
The minister says that he is aware of the technology and professional cleaning services available in the market, “However, I am now looking at the grassroots level, technology comes later. The most important thing is to create awareness among shopkeepers and common people to keep the area clean so that the tourists can regain confidence in the destination.”
According to the tourism policy, government of India is promoting tourism as a means of economic growth and social integration for the country. The role of government in tourism development has been redefined from regulator to a catalyst. While the “Incredible India” campaign is only intended to woo tourists to India the current tourism development plan is giving clear emphasis on investment on infrastructure development and maintenance.