The tiny Himalayan state Sikkim has sincerely adopted the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiated by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. As Sikkim is committed to maintain the dignity of Nirmal Rajya, awarded by Govt. of India in 2008, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has given the added momentum for the same, especially among school students. Students play a vital role in the society. They are the right means to spread message in the society on many issues. Keeping this in mind, most of the schools in Sikkim are doing exemplary work in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Lingchom Secondary School of West District is one among these; the students and teachers are doing well in solid waste management in the school premises. When you reach this school, you’ll be welcomed by the school gate made of recycled plastic bottles. The students prepare a number of decorative items from recycled items like waste polythene, bottles, paper napkins, clothes, sweet packets, CDs etc.  The plastic wastes in this locality have come down due to the initiative taken by the school and a positive message has been conveyed to the society. This is a small contribution to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from their side, said the students of the school.

Besides this, a miniature flower  garden has also been developed by the students and teachers in the school premises, which has given not only an aesthetic appeal to the school but also helped in providing a clean and green environment to the school. The students also use the waste tyres of vehicles and plastic bottles to make a solid waste management park in the school campus. As water is one of the important components in sanitation, the students and teachers of the school are very concerned to save water. As a result, they are carefully using waste water of Mid Day Meal in the garden after grey water treatment.

Though the school has started making its surroundings clean and green in 2010 under Green School Programme, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiated by Prime Minister has given energy to maintain it, says Shri Rajesh Thapa, Headmaster of the school. The school has received Green School Award twice from the State Government in 2011 and 2014 on the occasion of World Environment Day. Now the school has become the exposure hub for the other students across the state.

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Similarly, Aho Shanti Secondary School in East District is also doing well in making the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan successful. The school has started zero waste programme in the school campus with a view to give a message to the society.  Apart from keeping the school compound clean and green, the students are cultivating organic vegetables which are consumed by them in Mid Day Meal. The students also use biodegradable waste in the composting pit and produce organic manure to use in Kitchen Garden whereas non biodegradable items are utilized in making cushions, baby dolls and other decorative items.

According to Shri AK Bhandari, Headmaster of the school, they have left no stone unturned to implement Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The school is committed to making a litter-free school compound and has nominated a sanitation captain too. The painting and debate competition on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is organized at regular intervals.

The state government has constructed toilets each of the boys and girls at the cost of Rs 1 lakh 54 thousand under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.  Sanitation is a key issue for adolescent girls in school, consistent with their need of privacy, dignity, safety and self respect. Aiming to extend such privacy to them, the school has provided lavatory for girl students with sanitary napkin facility. Besides schools, Self Help Groups and NGOs are also committed to Swachh Bharat.

The members of Kanchenjunga Self Help Group of Sudunglakha in East District have developed the art of making dustbin, trey, basket etc. by reusing the wastes thrown in dustbin. The SHG is guided by the local NGO Youth Development Society of Sikkim of Dalapchand, Rongli. The product prepared by the SHG is being sold in various exhibitions. More than Rs 50 thousand has been deposited in their bank account.

The SHG has developed this concept after they came to know about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The work of this SHG is not only in helping to make their village clean, but has also helped in their livelihood and realizing the dreams of the government. Now the general people have become motivated from their art and they are also helping in collecting waste materials. The SHG has initiated this work with a view to make their locality clean and to make their members self employed. Now they are aiming to give training to the unemployed youths. For this, they are seeking financial as well as marketing support from the government, informed Geeta Rai, President of SHG.

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The proper management of garbage has now become the main challenge for each and every village and city. The people should work unconditionally and create awareness among the masses to face this challenge. Keeping this in mind the panchayats of Namthang Rateypani constituency in South District came forward to solve the problems of garbage management. Their problems have been solved when the nine gram panchayats units of the constituency received some cash amount as a Nirmal Gram Puraskar. The panchayats under the guidance of BDO have established solid waste management cum compost preparation centre by utilizing the prize money.

Organic manure is being produced from this centre since 2014. This centre’s steering committee is all set to start making soft toys and other items from the non biodegradable waste; with training imparted to the women of cooperative societies. The committee has appointed two safai karmachari to collect garbage from the nearby areas. They have been providing free health check up in every three months and also planning to provide them health insurance. The State Rural Management and Development Department have provided one vehicle to bring the garbage from the market. “The launching of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by the Prime Minister gave us enormous energy and encouragement for the purpose”, said Milan Kumar Chettri, a panchayat member.

In Sikkim the schools, NGOs, SHGs and Panchayats are putting all their effort to fulfill the dream of Swachh Bharat of Prime Minister. If we talk about the Gangtok Municipal Corporation, besides biodegradable and non biodegradable waste management, it has established an E-Waste Collection Centre with the launching of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in their office premises in Gangtok with the coordination of State Information and Technology Department. Initially, the corporation is collecting the E-Waste from the Government Department. They will dispose these wastes as per the laid down procedure of Government. For this the Department of Information Technology has already identified contractor by floating a tender. In the first phase, the corporation is confined to only government department falling under their jurisdiction. They are also planning to collect the E-Waste from the general public in the second phase, informed H.K. Chettri, the Deputy Municipal Commissioner.

The dream of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will become a reality when each and every member of the society wholeheartedly participates in making their surrounding clean and hygienic.

– By Shri Suman Gazmer, Freelance Journalist

Disclaimer: The writer is a journalist and the views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB.