The state capital of Meghalaya- Shillong has made all attempt to qualify for Smart City, but it is reported that in view of funding pattern, all attempts made were a waste. Also the endeavour for a face-lift in the state capital by laying all water-pipes in the removable tunnel has further defaced the lanes and bye-lanes by unprofessional execution of the work. Demarcated garbage collection points, which are unhygienic for the surroundings have also been removed across the city and in order to prevent further dumping, the Municipality Board has to employ guards round the clock at the site of the old dustbins to prevent citizens without civic sense from continuing to dump waste at these spots.
More than causing the exchequer by employing guards to further prevent public discarding the garbage at these sites which were unscientifically constructed, where stray-dogs can easily pick the waste and spread this all around, the newly purchased covered dustbins were simply kept opposite the MUDA parking lot at Kyndailad (Police Bazar) with only a few are being used for collection.
The National Green Tribunal has further banned dumping of waste into the streams and rivers passing through the city, while waste collection trucks, in some localities are so irregular that this forces the individual house-hold to continue dumping waste in the old garbage collection points, while most un-surveillance lanes and corner can witness huge accumulation of waste in the open-space, while the sides of most highways too are being filled with garbage.
This, apart from the sloppiness on the part of the garbage collectors also creates and sustains an unhealthy atmosphere as far as public health is concerned. Why is it that the SMB does not understand that by allowing such practices to continue they are in fact working against the ‘Keep Shillong Clean’ campaign and also hampering the reputation of this city among the tourists who visit?
Since the inception of the Shillong Municipal Board, the collection of garbage was done during pre-dawn hours such that, every individual can get up and begin their respective day’s activities in a fresh atmosphere in the city limits.
The relaxation and delay in garbage collection till long after day break was allowed only during the days when there was a serious law and order breakdown in the city in the year 1991. However, the practice stuck and since then, the timing of garbage collection is yet to be reverted back to the pre-dawn hours as is practiced in cities elsewhere in the country.
The authorities are cracking their brains to reduce traffic congestion in the city, especially during school hours and office hours. The SMB trucks, which are uncovered and overloaded with garbage, add to the congestion, spreading not only the foul smell but there have also been instances where the garbage spills onto the roads.
The Marten dumping ground issue is creating political ripples only because it was left unattended for the past many years. Here is where the above lexis cannot apply since the garbage does not consist only of decomposed waste causing the present problems. The recycling of garbage at Marten has failed miserably.
There are attempts by social organisations to impart cleanliness by awarding and recognising the cleanest locality annually. The residents of several localities have taken upon themselves to clean up their respective localities in the morning hours whereas, the SMB employees are yet to perform. Ironically, while most of them neglect their assigned work, they lose no time in demanding resettlement.
The state needs to take up on a war footing the ‘Clean Shillong’ theme. Former Governor, R S Mooshahary, had informed Chipko leader and environmentalist, Sundarlal Bahuguna, that Meghalaya has the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong. This village got its tag not with the help of the government, but the sense of cleanliness practiced by the villagers made it possible for the village to practice in the village to achieve such a pride.
Mooshahary recently informed yet another Environment specialist from the United Nations Development Programme, Matteo Marchisio about the self discipline and practice is all it takes for an individual to preserve the environment, and to keep the city clean, he proudly informed the audience that, the practice to the younger children at Mawlynnong, the cleanest villages in Asia, taught them to lived the same outside their village, he cited the recent invitation of 40 students from the said village who visited Raj Bhawan on invitation, were allowed to roam around the premises, after giving them the toffee.
He added, after they left, the entire premises is as clean as before their visit, which he added, was not so in other occasions when the children or students are being invited. This is the live example of inculcating the habits, which ultimately reflects in the society.
Every locality here needs to emulate Mawlynnong and to began with, the SMB must start collecting the garbage during the pre-dawn hours and every household needs to immediately practice recycling of waste to ease the pressure at Marten. Let us all dedicatedly try to keep Shillong Clean.
Meghalaya is one of the states where the highest percentage of occupation is government employee, yet it is strange that the 45 year old state is yet to deliver a landmark proposal or scheme for other states to envy. The state machinery could not formulate schemes and projects which could generate employment and has failed to create a constructive platform to market the products and produces of the state, which have discouraged the locals to strive for mass production.
Meghalaya too needs to take a lesson or two from the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath started cleaning up from the Government offices and old Chief Minister Secretariat, here too we can begin by keeping all government offices clean .
The state government has no other option except to expand the city, the state capital, and headquarters must stop all forms of construction or expansion and encourage the expansion in the outskirt, as adopted in Delhi, where many of the known companies, designer showrooms were all pushed out of the city limits. Meghalaya too has to do the same, especially in pushing the automobile workshops, malls and other similar establishments to the outskirt as expansion, otherwise, due to over - population, the urban sectors will be totally choked. The state government needs to keep questioning if Meghalaya is prepared to embrace urbanization due to unprecedented migration.
As of now the government is wasting public funds in keeping the city clean, once the masses can maintain civilized lifestyle, the fund could be utilized for better development, including improving the infrastructure for a clean Meghalaya.