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New Delhi MC sending sweepers to Japan and S.Korea for lesson on sanitation

Delhi sweepers going to japan

In a first of its kind initiative, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is sending a group of sweepers and diggers (beldars) on a official trip to foreign countries in order to provide them exposure to sanitation, cleanliness, waste disposal etc. in these nations. The trip will also educate the workers on how developed nations upkeep their local markets, residential colonies and townships.

A 10 member group, comprising of four sweepers, three diggers, one sanitary inspector, one junior engineer under leadership of a director-rank officer, will leave for Japan on November 22 where the group will visit local markets in Tokyo, a waste and garbage office in Sumida, an incineration plant, a bioenergy plant including many other institutions related to cleanliness and efficient waste disposal.

On Nov 26, the group will head to Seoul, South Korea and will visit waste collecting and recycling sites, landfill management centre, and a river park before concluding the trip on November 29. The trip was approved by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Earlier, these trips were taken by only VVIPs such as ministers, bureaucrats, and high-rank officials. More or less, as reports suggest, such official trips mean nothing more than overseas vacation on public money for them. Indeed, in the last seven decades after Independence, Indian VIPs have missed no opportunity to go on foreign trips but they seem to had forgotten actual purpose of spending public money on such exposure trips.

Apparently, change in government in Delhi is leading to reforms in policy making. Workers at ground level and officers at the functional level viz. Director/Dy.Secretary were given priority before planning this year’s exposure trip. Same was suggested by the Department of Expenditure while it had issued a new format for clearance of foreign trips on July 2, 2014.

According to an MEA official, “We were surprised when we saw the list of group members. I’m seeing such a proposal to send ground-level staff for the first time — otherwise most foreign trips are taken by senior officials.”

Explaining the motive behind this initiative, NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar said, “We took the decision to boost their morale. They must know how cities abroad are maintained by ground-level staff.”

Meanwhile, sweepers and diggers, who have been issued their passports, found it hard to digest that they have been selected for this official trip. “I never dreamt I will have a passport. I could never imagine I would go abroad one day,” said Lalit Kumar.

India is struggling with cleanliness issues and improper garbage disposal habits due to lack of education and awareness. Ground level workers such as sweepers and diggers have no idea when the government talks about ‘Swachh Bharat’. Such initiatives are actually going to boost the morale of ground level workers as well as give them something to compare their own work with.

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