The ‘cleanliness drive’ was carried out apparently to maintain Indore’s record as India’s ‘cleanest city’ for fourth consecutive year
Pervez Bari | Clarion India
BHOPAL – Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Indore, Pratap Solanki was suspended and two contractual employees were sacked after videos of an apparent ‘cleanliness drive’ caused major embarrassment to the government in Madhya Pradesh. Videos showed elderly homeless people picked and dumped like stray cattle outside the city area. This was done apparently to maintain Indore’s record as India’s “cleanest city” for fourth consecutive year, an honour given by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) was forced to bring them back after opposition from residents of the area called Kshipra protested the move. Seeing the plight of the aged, who were being left alone in the biting cold to fend for themselves in alien environment, people took their videos and made it viral on social media.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan twited expressing his annoyance over the entire episode and ordered action against the responsible officials.
Three videos went viral on Friday, two of which featuring an IMC anti-encroachment squad abandoning elderly destitute at Kishpra, which is outside the municipal limits.
The videos showed the IMC employees dropping the hapless people, many of them with just rags and torn bags as possessions, on the highway and throwing their belongings from a truck on the same road.
The third video showed local residents opposing the move of IMC employees even as one person was heard narrating how the aged homeless persons were abandoned on the highway and their belongings were being thrown on the road. One employee was seen trying to explain his position. The video shows elderly men and women, barely able to sit properly, being pulled out of the truck and dumped on the roadside by IMC employees – one of the workers was wielding a stick issuing directions to others.
The same video later showed the IMC employees lugging the elderly destitute back on the truck even as local residents threatened to share the clips of the incident on CM Helpline. After protest from Kshipra residents, they picked up the elderly men and women — believed to be brought from one of the IMC-run shelter home — and moved away amidst angry remarks from people witnessing the inhumane act. The video was apparently shot by one of the locals protesting the IMC action, led to sharp reactions from different quarters.
A shopkeeper of Kishpra, Rajesh Joshi said, “When we asked IMC employees why they abandoned elderly homeless in Kishpra, pat came the reply that the orders for the same had come from the government. The employees said that the destitute make Indore city dirty so they have been driven out of the city.” Joshi added that the residents forced the employees to take the aged people back.
As the videos went viral, IMC initially tried to trivialize the matter saying that IMC team was picking up destitute from a place in municipal limits to transport them to “Rainbasera” (night shelter). Solanki, the sacked Deputy Municipal Commissioner who was supervising the operation, gave a clean chit to the IMC team saying they did nothing wrong. “They were just picking up destitute from roadside to take them to night shelter,” he said.
IMC commissioner Pratibha Pal reportedly told reporters, “Deputy commissioner Pratap Solanki has been suspended and services of Rainbasera (shelter home) supervisor Brajesh Lashkari and a worker Vishwas Vajpayee have been terminated after the carelessness that came to fore on Friday.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Abhay Rajangaonkar said that he had seen the videos but did not find any inhumane act by the IMC employees. “They mishandled the destitute while putting them in the vehicle. Two employees have been sacked for it. An inquiry has been ordered to find out why they were taken out of the city,” he said.
IMC in an official release later said “The elderly have been taken to shelter homes and are being given proper care. Steps are being taken to prevent reoccurrence of the incident.”