An international event like the FIFA U-17 World Cup might have been the ideal opportunity to showcase to the world Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for a ‘Swachh Bharat’. But scenes outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium showed that the spectators of Delhi and the officials were certainly not playing ball with the PM’s dream.
As India geared up to face Colombia in the group stage of the FIFA U17 World Cup, the swanky JLN stadium had become an eyesore with large amounts of waste, litter and plastic bottles strewn all over. If the spectators didn’t care about basic manners, the local organising committee (LOC) failed to maintain the basic standards of cleanliness. The area around gate no 6 and 14, in particular, bore a sorry sight as mounds of plastic bottles, waste lay around without any attention.
According to police personnel stationed outside the stadium, the main reason behind this was lack of adequate personnel to clear the garbage and minimal provision of dustbins. Members of the police force claimed to have themselves tried to clean the mess as there was no help at hand.
Head constable, Shahid Ahmed, 49, told indianexpress.com, “We came in at 2 pm and since then not a single person has come to clear the garbage. No one from the LOC is around to report. Ultimately, we cleaned the litter ourselves. It was the same situation in the last match and we do not seem to have learned any lesson.”
When the local organising committee was approached, one of the members revealed that they have approached the Sports of Authority of India (SAI) for help and also looked at adding more volunteers to clear the mess. However, by the look of things, this mess is far from over. South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) too seems to be struggling to keep the place clean.
Meanwhile, Rajnish Yadav, 34, a fan who was on his way to the stadium, rued that people in Delhi still haven’t accepted the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. “The movement is a long way away from becoming a people’s movement. We still need to create a lot of awareness. It’s sad that despite the FIFA World Cup being a global event, we still can’t maintain the basic levels of cleanliness.”