I remember when I first went to Singapore (aeons ago) the must-have souvenir was a T-shirt that said something like “Singapore is a fine place”, and then listing all the things you could get fined for – men having long hair and chewing gum being the 2 classics.
Fast forward 30 years and, who knows, perhaps hamari Dilli is heading the same way.
There is a whole slew of proposals – according to my morning papers – aimed at making Delhi clean and un-smoke-spit-pee-poo free.
These proposals were all announced last month, and I would love to be able to report that our city is now squeaky clean and free of all the above mentioned…but…to be honest, haven’t noticed any change whatsoever.
But let’s look at these fines for a moment, which may/may not/might/might not include :
-> Rs 20,000 for smoking in a public place. Yup. Rs 20,000 for lighting up. Now those of you who know me, will also know that I loathe cigarette smoking, but all the same, this is pretty harsh.
->Rs 100-500 for littering, urinating and spitting in public. (Hmm…now these need to be hugely increased. And enforced.)
->(I’m quoting here, hence the language…) If someone’s dog is found defecating in public places, Rs 500 fine will be imposed on the pet owner.
And there you have it in one.
Rs 500 for a pet owner and what do we do about the zillions of strays…which are never sterilised by the authorities and so keep on multiplying…(Hey, 3/4 of my menagerie consists of strays, so I am most definitely not an animal snob). But the fact of the matter is there are thousands of strays in this city, going about their business on the streets. As do the hundreds of cows wandering around…and the donkeys…and the occasional elephant…so yes, flawed logic here, I’m afraid.
After my morning run through uber-posh, uber-pampered Lutyens Delhi this morning – I have another question for our municipal fathers. Who will pay the fines on behalf of the monkeys that I found littering South Avenue, as I huffed and puffed my way back from my run?
A troop of macaques must have raided a canteen somewhere – the Navy buildings I suspect, given the way the macaques were swarming over their barbed wire and scarpering PDQ – and there were chapatis strewn everywhere. Just a small part of their haul below…
There are also proposals to stop people bathing in public places. Every morning, as I run down gorgeous Janpath, I see the poorest of the poor washing their clothes and having a dip in the ornamental fountains and the (scummy) water features. Sadly, the city’s lost iconic location is poorly maintained, and thus the Lutyens designed water bodies are strewn with garbage and are covered in goodness knows what weeds and algae. But for the poor – many of them ragpickers – this is where they bathe and wash their clothes.
The clip below was taken last week, on the corner of Janpath and Man Singh Road, in front of an 18th century little mosque, the Shahi Masjid Zabta Ganj.
Now who in God’s name is going to fine these poor people?
Yes, yes, yes, this city needs such a clean-up it’s not funny. The city needs proper policing on every front. But the problems need to be tcakled from the ground up,not the other way round.
Rehouse the poor.
Sterilise the strays.
Relocate the macaques to national parks.
Provide waste paper bins. This beauty is right outside my house, and has been like this ever since we moved here 9 years ago.
Then you can start fining.