Swachh Ganga - Swachh Kashi Initiative

  • Ganga River is believed to be one of the India's holiest rivers with cultural and spiritual significance attributed to it by the people. Despite its importance and religious beliefs associated with it, the river is facing extreme pollution which is posing a great threat to its biodiversity. Recognising the river Ganga as the country's heritage, and to give an impetus to its conservation, the Government of India has declared it as "National River". When it comes to creating awareness about keeping our rivers clean, it is important to realise that it requires a change in people's attitude and hence their participation.

    National Mission for Clean Ganga has taken up the Ganga Action Plan Project (Varanasi) under the National Ganga Council in Varanasi, with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) as the implementing agency. While infrastructural improvement is one aspect of this initiative, the other important aspect is Public Awareness and Public Participation (PAPP), for which CEE was invited in 2016 to take up education and awareness programmes at the ghats and in schools. CEE Varanasi was established as a project office to implement the project activities. In 2017, CEE was also given the responsibility for residential zones which are close to the ghats.

    CEE North is implementing the Swachh Ganga-Swachh Kashi initiative with support from Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VNN), as part of which CEE is working with 100 schools, 32 wards and 86 ghats to raise awareness and sensitise them towards cleanliness and sanitation. Under the ghat and school initiative, CEE undertook took awareness generation and sensitisation activities during 2017-18, as given below.

  • Clean Ganga Club Activities
    • CEE team has enrolled 100 schools and colleges in the programme and provided orientation to students and teachers on the formation and functioning of Clean Ganga Clubs.
    • Teacher Training: A teacher training programme was conducted in October 2017 for all 100 schools on Clean Ganga Club formation and functioning. The two day workshop facilitated by CEE enabled sharing the details of the programme and discussing the plan of action with the schools and teachers, including conducting school and ghat level activities. About 73 teachers from 69 schools of Varanasi participated in the workshop.
    • Ganga Chaupal: To involve all the 100 enrolled schools, two Ganga chaupals were conducted in December 2017, where students were encouraged to showcase their ideas through painting competitions. Over 506 students from 79 schools attended the events. At the event, CEE team presented potted plants to guests from the JICA Project Management Unit. After the painting competition, a topic was announced for a debate competition following which an open discussion and question-answer session was held with the students in the audience participating. Around 54 students presented their thoughts at the facilitated discussion.
    • Ganga Mela: The annual event of Clean Ganga Club schools was organised as a Ganga Mela in January 2018, with the objective of encouraging the club members to share their learning and experiences by showcasing their work in an exhibition. At the event, more than 700 students from 52 Clean Ganga Club schools participated, with more than 1500 community members and other key stakeholders joining the event. Overall, more than 2500 participants visited the mela and interacted with the club teams at the stalls. Some of the core themes of the programme were cleanliness and keeping our rivers clean; river biodiversity and its conservation; solid waste management; and water conservation. Students and groups from various schools presented songs, dances and nukkad natak at the event. Guests and visitors appreciated the efforts of the Ganga Club schools.
  • Clean Ganga Ghat Activities
    • CEE's awareness activities on Ganga ghats, initiated since 2016, included regular interactions with stakeholders on the ghats such as vendors, tourists, priests, pilgrims, boatmen, washermen, youth and others. Vendors meetings were organised at various ghats to initiate a dialogue with them on concerns related to keeping our ghats clean. Different stakeholder groups were identified and meetings held with them to seek their support and cooperation. During first year, nukkad natak shows and distribution of dustbins were undertaken at the ghats.
    • Visits to Ghats and Consultations: During 2017-18, CEE team regularly visited the ghats and met different stakeholders such as boatmen, washermen, vegetable vendors and shopkeepers to discuss their issues and concerns, while also obtaining their feedback on the use of dustbins, possibility of saying no to plastics and monitoring the use of facilities available at the ghats like toilet, bathroom and changing room.
    • Vendors and Stakeholders Meetings: With the survey and ghat visits, CEE team identified vendors and started consultations with them on emerging issues of concern and interest. CEE team has conducted 12 vendor meetings at different ghats. During the reporting year, three stakeholder meetings were conducted to discuss and share activities being undertaken at the ghats and feedback on use of dustbins from boatman, vendors, barbers, priests, etc.
    • Exhibition Stalls: A three day exhibition was setup by CEE during three occasions - Ganga Mahotsav post Diwali celebrations, Ganga Mela and Swachhata Pakhwada, to raise awareness among visitors about the initiative. Another exhibition is being planned at an appropriate occasion.
    • Awareness Rallies: To create awareness about cleanliness and sanitation, CEE team organised rallies to motivate and ensure participation of community members in maintaining sanitation and hygiene highlighted the need for sanitation, cleanliness and waste management and encouraged people to take responsibility for these in their localities. Vendors were also motivated to take part in the rally. During the reporting year, 24 awareness rallies were organised with the participation of more than 3500 people.
  • Residential Zone Awareness Activities
    • CEE is covering two residential zones, namely, Adampur and Kotwali zones, for mobilising ward sanitation committees and conducting awareness and education activities/programmes, covering 32 wards. During the year, CEE's Varanasi office project team has conducted various activities and events among the community members.
    • Special Events: On the occasion of environment and health related days, CEE team conducted special events. In Adampur zone, events were organised on World Toilet Day and National Sanitation Day, to discuss the public's role and participation in maintaining cleanliness in Ganga, water management, bringing about behavioural changes so as to avoid wasting water and besides various water and environment related issues. In Kotwali zone, World Environment Day and World Water Day were celebrated as special events. More than 1000 people participated in these events.
    • Nukkad Natak: In Adampur and Kotwali zone, CEE team organised street plays in all the 32 wards. These nukkad nataks (street plays) were conducted to raise awareness on making wards open defecation free and promoting solid waste management, and to create awareness regarding waste management, cleanliness, sanitation, etc. The drama Kashi ki Pehchaan was presented by Prerna Kala Manch. IEC materials appealing to the public to keep their surroundings clean were also distributed after the play. These plays helped in sensitising people towards maintaining cleanliness and adopting sanitation related practices.
    • Meetings at Wards: To ensure people's participation towards sanitation and cleanliness of wards, over 80 Ward Sanitation Monitoring Committee (WSMC) and eight Zone Sanitation Monitoring Committee (ZSMC) meetings were organised in Kotwali zone; over 175 ward level meetings and seven zone level meetings were conducted in Adampur zone. Regular interaction at various levels in the form of monthly meetings was undertaken from July 2017 to March 2018 in all 32 wards of both zones. Committee activities and sanitation related issues were discussed in these meetings, besides reporting of ward problems and people's participation.
    • Meetings at Wards: To ensure people's participation towards sanitation and cleanliness of wards, over 80 Ward Sanitation Monitoring Committee (WSMC) and eight Zone Sanitation Monitoring Committee (ZSMC) meetings were organised in Kotwali zone; over 175 ward level meetings and seven zone level meetings were conducted in Adampur zone. Regular interaction at various levels in the form of monthly meetings was undertaken from July 2017 to March 2018 in all 32 wards of both zones. Committee activities and sanitation related issues were discussed in these meetings, besides reporting of ward problems and people's participation.
    • To sensitise the various stakeholders, members of various communities such as weavers/bunkar, washermen/dhobi, sanitary staff, dyers, gaddhidar, kasera society, various committees (i.e. Taziya, Durgapooja Samiti, Sardar, Vyapar Mandal), government officers, Community Toilet Complex staff and NGOs, were invited to participate in awareness meetings. Four such meetings were conducted in each ward during the year.
    • Cleanliness Drives for Wards: To strengthen the bonding of WSMC/ZSMC Committees, CEE team had organised about 100 cleanliness drives in both the zones. Through these drives, temporary unauthorised dumping locations were identified in the zones, cleaned and converted to non-dumping locations by persuading the local people. Prior to the drive, volunteers went door to door and gave cleanliness related information to the public and made an appeal to the people to avoid throwing garbage on the road or the street. This ensured that along with the CEE team, community members also participated in the clean drive. The field team continuously visited the wards every month to create awareness regarding removal of dumping points.
    • Announcement in Colonies: Regular announcement was planned in colonies in order to remind people on a continuous basis about the good practices related to solid waste management, making the zones open defecation free, protecting the environment and keeping the Ganga free from pollution. Tricycles/rickshaws with recorded messages which moved around in the colonies and slums were used for this purpose. The rickshaw announcement was organised by CEE with audio spots developed in the local language. The field team also visited the wards with the rickshaw puller and appealed to the public not to throw garbage in the road or the street. Such announcements were done in all the 32 wards.
    • Rallies/Padyatras: To ensure the active participation of community members in keeping the ward clean, stopping open defecation, ensuring door to door garbage collection and solving other problems of the ward, it was decided to organise two-three rallies in each ward every month. During the rally or padyatra, participants interacted with other community members regarding sanitation and other burning issues, going door to door and convincing them. Ward Parishad members, Anganwadi workers, sanitary inspector, police Inspector and ward member joined the rallies and flagged off padyatras. In both zones, 40 awareness rallies were organised in different wards where more than 2000 people participated.
    • Training for Women Members of WSMCs/ZSMCs: A three day training workshop for women's groups was organised by CEE with support from Varanasi Nagar Nigam in Kotwali zone, with the aim of imparting skills in making different types of cloth products. The main focus of the programme was to sensitise and train women towards reuse of old clothes and making new things using old clothes like various kinds of bags, file covers, mobile pouches, etc. Solid waste management and reducing the amount of waste in the garbage discarded from homes was also discussed. A local expert was invited to guide the women's group in making different products.
    • IEC Material: IEC material with key communication messages was visualised, designed and developed by CEE, and subsequently shared with VNN and printed. A brochure on the project was also developed along with flyers and small booklets.
    • Stakeholder Meeting: CEE team conducted a stakeholder meeting with zone committee members and ward committee members of both the zones, to ensure their active participation for effective implementation of the project activities. This was held with support from VNN/PMU and PMC. Cleanliness, open defecation, use of dustbin and various issues related to cleanliness and solid waste management, the need for everybody to involve in cleaning the wards were some of the topics discussed. Officials of the project interacted directly with the public and heard their problems and suggested ways to resolve them.