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Kid brigade in clean-up crusade
- 200 tonnes of trash a day keep Calcutta unclean

Casually chucking a plastic packet on the pavement; leisurely stopping to spit out the pan masala; facing the wall to relieve oneself in public — stop that!

In a desperate bid to wipe off the offensive portrait of the Calcuttan as a habitual offender when it comes to keeping the streets clean, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided to rope in kids to shame errant adults into cleaning up their act.

Having done precious little to fight the filth, the CMC has now turned to students for ‘mission impossible’. Four hundred trash bins have been procured from Delhi at a cost of Rs 12 lakh to help the kids’ army in their clean-up crusade, said civic officials.

“If a kid comes up and tells an offender ‘Kaku, aami apnake dekhiye dichchhi moylata kothay phelte hobe (Uncle, allow me to show you where the trash should be thrown)’, I think it can work wonders,” said Rajib Deb, member, mayor-in-council (conservancy). “To start with, we will have a seven-day test run,” said Deb, adding that this would become a monthly anti-filth fixture if successful. “We have already spoken to two south Calcutta schools and are in the process of involving others in our plans.”

According to conservancy department assistant director Swapan Mahapatra: “Nearly 200 tonnes of trash accumulate on the roads each day.”

“The 400-odd bins are going to be placed at important intersections, and special emphasis will be laid on the central business district and areas adjacent to educational institutions and theatres,” said conservancy chief engineer Arun Sarkar.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee — the brains behind the junior trash-bust brigade — is the first to admit that this would not clean up the city. But what about imposing and implementing penalties that pinch and fines that put a fear into the offender, a la Singapore'

On that score, the CMC is going from soft (Rs 50, practically never imposed) to softer (Rs 25), fearing political and public pressure against steep spot-fines. The government, meanwhile, has decided to launch a campaign to make people aware of the West Bengal Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting and Protection of Health of Non-smokers and Minors Act.

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