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Clean india mission

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‘When the last tree is cut and the last fish killed, the last river poisoned, then you will see that you can’t eat money.’

John May
The Greenpeace Story

The CLEAN-India Programme

India has a population of over one billion, of which almost 300 million live in around 600 towns and cities.

Unfortunately, as a result of stressed environmental conditions, most of these towns and cities are unable to cope with the rapid pace of urbanisation.
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started a Swachh Bharat campaign. We support him on this endeavour. His government has promised to build toilets so that people are not seen defecating in the open. Even today 59% of the population uses open spaces to defecate. The government has passed a whopping Rs 40 billion to construct 5.3 million latrines by the time it completes 100 days in office.

Water pollution, unavailability of drinking water, inadequate sanitation, open dumping of waste, and loss of forest cover are some of the related problems. These have serious consequences on the health of the people and are also an economic burden to the country.
A clean India will definitely be a healthy India. Malaria, dengue and various other diseases which are spread through insects are caused due to unsanitary conditions of our towns and villages.

Similarly, water-borne disease like diarrhoea, jaundice and cholera are taking a heavy toll on both human health and economic productivity.

This situation demands immediate intervention in the management of rapidly growing urban environmental problems.

Another aspect of cleanliness is turning India green, that is growing more trees. A clean and green India will help us in breathing fresh air.

The quality of the environment needs to be monitored regularly and, more importantly, scientific work needs to extend beyond the laboratory and become more community centered. While the regulatory agencies continue to play their role.
India is fast emerging as a work superpower. We are the world’s largest democracy in terms of population. Our scientists have sent a vehicle to the planet Mars. We have an ancient culture and tradition dating back centuries. An Indian Aryabhatta invented zero. Sushrata Samhita is a medical journal of the Vedic period which still has relevance in today’s modern times. We have had renowned writers, poets and musicians like Kalidasa, Tansen and Rabindranath Tagore. We have beautiful monuments and palaces like Taj Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Qutub Minar , Konark Sun Temple. I can continue to recount India’s achievement and glory both past and present but today’s foremost problem is unclean India.

Programmes that are community based are required. These will help the community understand local issues and take necessary initiatives to improve their local environmental conditions and come up with new locale-specific initatives to improve their sorrounding environmental conditions.
It is up to the local people to pressurise the local government to take up cleanliness drives. A government can do so much but it is up to the citizens also to maintain cleanliness. We should not spit in public places. We should not litter on roads and lanes. The ban on plastic bags should be followed strictly. Drains are clogged by plastic causing stagnant water. The government should see that drains are covered and dustbins placed at strategic places.

CLEAN-India (Community Led Environment Action Network) programme was launched by Development Alternatives (DA) with the vision of developing a cleaner environment for our urban centres. This nation-wide programme focuses on environmental assessment, awareness, advocacy and action on school children who are the future citizens. The underlined realisation is that ‘each one of us is responsible for the current state of are environment and we cannot wait for someone else to solve it’.

A clean India is definitely healthy. We need to clean government offices of both old files and corruption. We need to clean government hospitals to provide proper healthcare to the teeming population who cannot afford private healthcare. We need to clean our rivers and waterways which are being used as sewerage. The rivers are being used to empty both household and industrial wastes. Strict norms need to be followed. The industry owner should be held responsible for the damage he causes to the river. The Ganga and Yamuna are two rivers which have been completely destroyed.

CLEAN-India Mission

The CLEAN-India programme aims to mobilise community responsibility for environmental assessment and improvement in all major towns and cities of India through schools and NGOs linked with governments, business, academic and other institutions.

Over half the city’s population lives in slums. They use roads and pavements to do their business just like the rural poor use railway tracks. The sanitation drive will only be successful if citizens too join hands with the government.

CLEAN-India Network

CLEAN-India programme partners with more than 30 like-minded NGOs, 400 schools and over one million students who coordinate the activities across 78 urban centres of India. They participate in various environmental activities and programmes for a cleaner greener India.

CLEAN-India Thematic Areas

• Water quality and conservation

• Sanitation

• Land use and biodiversity conservation

• Water conservation

• Air quality

• Energy efficiency

• Carbon footprint

• Climate change

The Journey So Far...

CLEAN-India has evolved with the experiences and learnings from the various initiatives it has taken in the past fifteen years.

Some few years back, Surat a city in Gujarat was struck by plague due to the rats infested garbage heaps. Thank goodness, the town woke up and today the city is spick and span.

It is now a front runner in the field of conservation and sustainable living.

CLEAN-India programme evolved from DA’s experience with the Delhi Environment Action Network (DEAN) programme, which began in September1996 with five schools. Over 4000 children have now been trained directly on environmental assessment and improvement activities.

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Action programmes to improve local environmental conditions have been initatiated. Solid waste management, plantation drives, energy conservation, paper recycling, etc., are some activities done by the schools, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), business and industrial associations and individual households. This experience indicates that when environment assessment is youth and community based, it mobilises the community to review their local environment conditions and take the requisite measures without waiting for external support.

CLEAN-India has around 30 partner NGOs who drive the CLEAN-India initiative in their urban centres.

Let us young and old change our habits of littering public places, taking part in cleanliness drives in our locality, raise voice and campaign against garbage heaps and many such small things will make India clean and healthy.

The endeavour has been well received in these areas. Many more NGOs from across the country have expressed interest to initiate the CLEAN-India programme in their own cities and towns.

Over the past decade, the programme has mobilised an extensive network of environmentally conscious citizens. They have assumed responsibility and evolved solutions to their existing environmental problems. Besides the core network of 30 NGOs, thousands of school teachers and several other citizens’ groups like RWAs, parents fora, local business associations and youth clubs participate actively in the activities. The programme covers various aspects pertaining to our environment like water, air, trees and medicinal plants, waste management (composting, waste paper recycling), checking for food adulteration, bird watching, energy conservation, eco-consumerism.

The CLEAN-India Programme is:
Unique - because it involves children and yougth, the future citizens as engines of change
Scientific - as it is equipped with scientific tools, methods and techniques
Innovative - as it has a structured framework with flexibility to address the local needs
Inclusive - as it joins hands with all stakeholders
Holistic - as it addresses the entire value chain from assessment to solutions
Regular - in creating an environmental movement combining hands-on scientific learning with civic action
Effective - because it creates Eco-Citizens for tomorrow…


Recognising the potential of the CLEAN-India Programme, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Development Alternatives to mutually assist and strengthen existing initiatives of community based environmental action in India. This collaboration was aimed at mobilising the school network for continuous monitoring of environmental quality and motivating communities to initiate activities for clean neighbourhoods.

Similarly, CLEAN-India is partnering relationships with business and industry associations and entities like the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), FORD Motors and also with academic institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

CLEAN-India Tools

• Jal-TARA Water Testing Kit helps monitor the quality of drinking water.

• Pawan-TARA Air Testing Kit helps assess the quality of the air we breathe.

• Jal-TARA Water Filter provides safe drinking water by treating pathogenic bacteria and turbidity.

• TARA Mini Paper Recycling Plant recycles waste paper generated in schools and communities which enable us to make our own stationary.

Achievements/ Milestones

• CLEAN Dindigul recieved the JCB Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)-Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) second runner up award for excellence in solid waste management in 2011.

• CLEAN-India website won the Manthan-AIF Award for best e-content on environment in 2006.

• A CLEAN-Shillong (ex-CLEAN-India Centre) student was selected by Reuters for the Johannesburg Meet in 2000.

• The first DEAN - CLEAN Mela was held in 1998 and included an exhibition, competitions, quiz and a public forum

• CLEAN-India students participated in international conferences in Edinburgh, UK and Nairobi, Kenya in 1997 and 1998.

• Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain interacted with a CLEAN-India student in Edinburgh, UK in 1997.

• DA was nominated as the focal agency for ‘Earth Charter for Children’, South Asia. Few of our Resource Centres have helped us translate it into 6 regional languages also. We have released posters, brochures and one book on all the languages in ninth CLEAN-India Meet in 1995.

• Tree helpline started by Delhi Government. PIL in Supreme Court for protection of greens / trees.

• A number of projects have been catalysed with agencies such as UNICEF, Water Aid, Department of Science and Technology, MoEF and Delhi Government.

• CLEAN-India is a part of an International Youth Alliance ‘Be the Solution’.

Support for CLEAN-India
• European Commission
• Delhi Government
• Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India

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    Sources:
  • 1. www.devalt.org/newsletter/nov12/lead.htm
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