If you happen to visit the town of Goalpara in Assam, a splendid surprise will welcome you.
More than 2,000 buildings in Goalpara, one of the cleanest places in the state, have been painted blue to maintain uniformity throughout the city and give it a neater look.
The entire project, which started in February last year, was undertaken by the businessmen in Goalpara, to paint all small and big shops in the town in one colour.
“The Deputy Commissioner had organised a meeting to discuss the Swachh Bharat mission. That was when I suggested the whole town should be of one colour so that it looks clean. He also wanted to ask us to do the same thing. The idea was appreciated and everyone came on board,” says 57-year-old Bimal Surana, who is the owner of a hardware shop in Goalpara.
Deputy Commissioner J.V.N. Subramanyam appealed to the business community to colour the entire commercial area in a unique colour.
The painted buildings are a part of a larger scheme launched by the DC in December 2014. It is called the Mukhyamantir Asomar Nirmal aru Seuj Abhijan – MANASA scheme, the state government’s own cleanliness program. A remarkable change took place in Goalpara under the District Administration and MANASA scheme. The numbers of workers and sweepers in the town have been increased from 30 and 23 respectively, to 60 and 30.
Over 170 dustbins have been placed on the streets and outside every shop.
Open and covered drains are regularly cleaned, and tree plantation drives keep taking place.
“The businessmen also get together, decide one day and clean the whole market. Nobody throws anything outside the dustbins. If anyone does, we stop them and explain the significance of a clean town,” says Bimal.
Goalpara Municipality is the second oldest municipality in the state of Assam. It was established in 1875 by the British Administrator. The town of Goalpara is the District Headquarters of a district by the same name.
The business community has contributed in many different ways. “The Deputy Commissioner asked how I will contribute. I have a hardware shop where I sell paint. So I said that whoever comes to purchase paint from me, I will set aside the profit margin and sell at the cost price. I have sold 6,000 litre of paint without profit. I just wanted everyone to take the initiative forward. No matter what it takes,” says Bimal.
Situated on the western most part of the state, on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra, Goalpara is a beautiful place. And to make it even more beautiful, the town is cleaned every day from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.
On special cleanliness drives, the citizens, government officials, school and college students are also involved.
Around 70 nameplates with proper directions have been installed on the streets, along with 50 sodium vapour lamps, 160 CFLs and 228 LEDs.
To ensure round-the-clock cleanliness, J.V.N. Subramanyam keeps visiting the municipal area on regular morning walks to check the progress of the work under MANASA.
According to a report by an executive officer of the Goalpara Municipality, Goalpara had very poor urban development indices prior to this scheme. The maintenance staff members were demotivated and this led to inefficient delivery of urban services. This in turn caused public discontent and non-payments of tax dues by the citizens. MANASA was launched to bring Goalpara out of this vicious circle by rebuilding trust among people and motivating the municipal staff. All conservancy staff members, including sweepers, were provided with two sets of uniforms, raincoats and jackets, helmets, gumboots, and hand gloves, with necessary appliances for cleaning garbage and solid waste. They were also provided with accident and health insurance.
This was followed by the eviction and demolition of unauthorised structures and clearing of clogged drains.