By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 30, 2017
A Brand Ambassador is a paid individual, normally a celebrity, who might never use the product he or she is endorsing. However, corporates prefer to pay huge amounts (which are then passed on to the unsuspecting consumer) to celebrities for endorsing a particular product or brand. The more famous the celebrity is, more likelihood of the product being used. That seems to be the thought process behind Brand Ambassadors.
But have you heard of someone tirelessly endorsing a product without being a Brand Ambassador, simply because he is gung-ho about it and wants the entire city to cash in on its effectiveness? Meet Fr. Savio Silveira (Sdb) Director of GreenLine, an Environmental Organization promoted by the Don Bosco Society.
Ever since Fr. Silveira stumbled upon the Swachhata app and tried it for its effectiveness, he has been enthusiastically promoting the app to all within earshot. “It came as a pleasant surprise,” says Fr. Silveira referring to the effectiveness and prompt action taken by the concerned Ward Officers.
“We citizens often complain that Mumbai is messy, but what’s our contribution to keeping this city clean? Using this app is a great way for us to get involved in cleaning up our city,” urges Fr Silveira, whose GreenLine along with other organizations and individuals, has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal, which has presently stalled the government from going ahead with its destructive plans.
He keeps his ‘green eye’ open, applauding where necessary and questioning where required.
Martin D’Souza met Fr. Savio Silveira.
How did you come across the Swachhata app, was it advertised by the BMC?
I first came across the Swachhata app on the MCGM Solid Waste Management facebook page. I have used this fb platform a few times to register complaints about garbage not being cleared in my neighbourhood, as well as other parts of the city. Well, when I saw this new app advertised there, I checked out the details of the app and it certainly seemed very user-friendly.
What was you first reaction about this app and the promises made with it?
The description of the app said that you could register complaints related to civic issues such as garbage dumped on the roads, garbage vehicle not arrived, dustbins not cleaned, sweeping not done etc. All you needed to do was to take a picture of the problem and post it on the app. What caught my attention was the promise that you would get regular updates on the status of the complaint and also be notified when it was resolved. It seemed like the authorities were determined about getting their act together!
And then you decided to try it…
While I downloaded the app immediately, I did not actually use it at once. Then, a few days back, I saw a heap of garbage gathering just outside our compound at Don Bosco, Matunga, Mumbai, and that’s when I decided to use it.
Did you honestly, expect the result you got?
No, it came as a pleasant surprise. I registered the complaint late evening, the next morning I got a call from Rajesh Kamtekar, the SWM Officer of our F-North Ward, saying that they had received the complaint and that it would be attended to shortly. Simultaneously I also got a notification on the app saying that the matter was being attended to. A few hours later, I was informed that the issue had been resolved. Pretty efficient I must say!
So now you are promoting this app tirelessly.
You know, we citizens often complain that Mumbai is messy, but what’s our contribution to keeping this city clean? I think using this app is a great way for us to get involved in cleaning up our city. We can be digital crusaders for this cause, no dirtying of hands needed.
What would your message be to the people living in this city WRT to this app?
Just two words—Get Involved. Our great lack of involvement in civic issues is what’s exacerbating the problems. There’s too much of apathy all around. If we citizens get really active, we can keep the authorities on their toes. So yes, download the app and make regular use of it.
You are also very active in the “Save Aarey” campaign. Tell us something about it?
The Aarey destruction is easily one of the most critical environmental issues that Mumbai is presently facing. The Aarey forest is the last green lung of Mumbai, it helps filter much of the air pollution in this city, especially in the suburbs. The government is unfortunately viewing Aarey as “an opportunity for development”. They have proposed the setting up of the Car Shed for Metro 3 in Aarey. This will lead to the cutting down of over 2000 trees in Aarey.
This is very alarming and a lot many people are coming forward, I believe…
There is very little public involvement with the Save Aarey campaign. It needs to become a mass movement in Mumbai. The proposed new Development Plan for the city has also suggested the setting up of a zoo, educational institutions, as well as some other public amenities in Aarey. This is effectively going to destroy the forest there. The Save Aarey campaign is demanding that Aarey should not be touched, that it should be designated as a forest area. GreenLine, along with other organizations and individuals, has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal, which has presently stalled the government from going ahead with its destructive plans.
What is GreenLine all about?
GreenLine is an Environmental Organization promoted by the Don Bosco Society. The vision GreenLine has is ‘Greener People, Greener World’. Like I have stressed earlier, we need people who are environmentally conscious and active. It’s only when we have people with greener mindsets, living greener lifestyles, standing up for green issues, will we then have a greener world.
Any concrete action plan the organisation has laid out?
Yes, to achieve our vision, GreenLine presently runs three programmes: the first being the Green Schools Campaign, wherein we are working with school children in 50 schools across the city; the second is the Green Lead Programme which works with college students; and the third is the Green Citizens Initiative which focuses on getting citizens groups, housing societies, etc. involved in environmental issues.
What would you say has been the impact of these programmes?
I am happy to say that we are already seeing greater interest and involvement by children and other citizens in environmental issues. Some schools have come up with their own Environmental Policy and several schools have introduced eco-friendly practices. We have also managed to get a good number of citizens involved in the Save Aarey Campaign, E-Waste collection drives and other similar initiatives. We may still have a long way to go before we see a greener world, but I am hopeful that we will get there!
SWM Officer, F-North Ward, Mumbai
“We receive around 10-15 complaints via the app in a day and all of them are resolved within 24 hours. We are enjoying our work. We love to serve the people of this city. My phone is on 24×7 and we are all working as a team to ensure our city is clean and we address every grievance.”
How does the app work?
This solution is for all the 4041 towns and cities of India. Take a picture of the Civic-related issue using your smart phone, and post it in one of the following categories.
- Garbage dump
- Garbage vehicle not arrived
- Dustbins not cleaned
- Sweeping not done
- Dead animals
- Public toilet(s) cleaning
- Public toilet(s) blockage
- No water supply in public toilet(s)
- No electricity in public toilet(s)
The app will capture the location while the picture is being taken. Just type in the landmark of the complaint location. The complaint will then be assigned to the concerned sanitary inspector/engineer. You can also reopen the complaint if you are not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint.
Also Read: Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, back from captivity
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