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A clean sweep for Indore

Updated on: 26 September,2022 01:16 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Fiona Fernandez |

Our sutradhaars discuss Indore’s success story, and why it fully deserves the tag of ‘India’s cleanest city’

A clean sweep for Indore

Rajwada Palace, Indore. Pic/Wikimedia commons

Fiona FernandezLady Flora rubbed her eyes in disbelief as she approached their usual hangout at Horniman Circle Gardens. Her friend, Sir PM, was sweeping around their favourite bench. It made for an amusing sight, where the sharply dressed gent was engaged in a domestic routine. She nearly let out a laugh, “Pheroze, what in God’s name has gotten into you!” Sir PM stopped at once; a sheepish smile enveloped his face, after he removed his face mask. “My Lady, I am sorry if I startled you with this unplanned activity. I was sprucing the place for our session,” he added. “But why this sudden obsession?” his friend’s curiosity was sufficiently piqued, all the more because he had skipped their previous Sunday meet-up.

“Well, if you must know, I was invited to an exclusive cricket match last weekend by the Maharajah of Malwa. The game was between the royals and law-makers from pre Independent India. It was a splendid day in whites. I was a tad rusty, and managed to score only 16 runs, but pouched a good, low catch in the…” Before he could proceed, Lady Flora interrupted him, “I’m happy that you could rekindle your passion with the old boys’ club but what has triggered this cleanliness fix?”

Sir PM was disappointed that he had to halt raving about his cricket exploits, but knew it was wise to not rile  his friend with further detours. “Oh yes. We were flown down by His Highness’ private jet to Indore, and taken by road to his palace in the outskirts. And that’s when I saw this revolution. From the time we landed in the city, which I was told, had been consecutively bagging the honour of being ‘India’s cleanest city’, I observed why they had deservingly earned the title. Typically, the approach roads to and from most Indian city airports are an eyesore, with squatters and litter piled up on either side. But this, My Lady, was a pleasant exception and…” Lady Flora jumped in, once again, with a pertinent query, “But surely, this look must not have extended to the city?”

Sir PM smiled, “That’s where Indore is an outright winner. We drove through most of the main as well as the older congested parts of the city, and my goodness, I was impressed. No paan-stained walls and sidewalks, no overflowing garbage bins, and no shamelessly casual spitting habit of citizens that are such a common sight in most Indian metros, including ours. The litmus test was a halt at a popular food joint — Mosa Jalebi Bhandar. The jalebis tasted like heaven on a plate…” “You’re digressing again, Pheroze; stick to the point,” Lady Flora intervened. “I apologise; Indori breakfasts are a gastronome’s delight but more about it later. I was still unconvinced but that pit stop was the deal breaker. The shop and its periphery were washed clean; dustbins for wet and dry waste were close by, and customers were instructed to leave their waste in those. The best part? They follow rules. As we drove around the city, it became increasingly evident that civic sense is second nature to Indorewallahs. We didn’t spot plastic bottles strewn around public water coolers, another common occurrence in most towns and cities, while at the bazaars, including the famous 56 Dukaan neighbourhood, the outer sections were as spotless as the interiors. Our driver informed us that the authorities had installed dustbins every 100 metres, and alert sweepers did their jobs with pride; they had shorter shifts of four-five-hour-duration, thereby ensuring this system could succeed, thanks to such round-the-clock focus. Even the railway tracks were garbage-free since we got an elevated view of it while crossing a bridge; the footpath of which, I must admit, is a place I would gladly sit on. Even the outskirts continued with the same clean vistas, near cattle sheds and at highway dhabas.” Lady Flora’s jaw had dropped by now. “All this must have been tough to digest, dear Pheroze, especially after your glory days with our city corporation?”

“It pained me that we’ve slipped so far behind. Our knowledgeable driver told us that this movement started as a citizens’ initiative about a decade ago, with its youth at the forefront. On seeing its success, the municipal corporation stepped in and they implemented the blueprint on a larger scale. The rest is a historic sweep…hehe…that was my attempt at a pun, My Lady,” Sir PM chuckled. “Jokes aside, I was told that if an occupant drops a paper tissue outside their car, the vehicle will be tailed within minutes, and fined for the offence. Such is the intent of this movement.” Lady Flora chimed in, “Our Bombay babus and mantris should ditch taking those expensive ‘study’ trips to Tokyo or Shanghai, and head to Indore instead. I am embarrassed to hear this. I hope you’re planning to table a report based on your observations about a smaller city with lesser funding as compared to our cash-rich corporation that seems pretty busy at the moment with their annual shoddy patch-up job of filling Moon-sized craters on our roads. Sadly, we will need more than brooms to effect a change here.”

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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