Not a Clean Sweep
Dera Sacha Sauda chief and followers sweep Jaipur clean and earn a traffic violation for their pains
He swished into Jaipur in a heavily guarded cavalcade to clean up its mess. He shamed its municipal corporation. And ended up with a traffic ticket in the bargain.
Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, the Sirsa-based spiritual organisation, arrived in the city with 26,000 followers on November 2 as part of the Cleanliness Earth Campaign he launched in Delhi in September. His team fanned out to different parts of the city’s 77 wards. A 32-member central committee coordinated the effort as Singh’s followers, a seven-member team for each ward, went about sweeping streets, cleaning drains and collecting garbage. They finally dumped all the filth in vehicles that the Jaipur Municipal Corporation ( JMC) had provided. In just 10 hours, Singh’s followers accomplished a feat which the JMC, with its 7,000-strong sanitation staff, could never accomplish.
Jaipur’s fall from grace on the cleanliness index has been sharp, from among the 10 cleanest cities between 2001 and 2007 to No. 229 among 423 cities in a May 2011 report of Union Ministry of Urban Development.
Fights between Jaipur Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal—who is backed by the city MP Mahesh Joshi—with counsellors and corporation officials have brought the JMC’S functioning to a stand still. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot supports both of them.
Local media and Jaipur residents lauded Singh’s effort. But an irked administration pounced on the Sauda chief’s only slip-up—the cavalcade he arrived in comprised six bulletproof black Lexus SUVS bearing the same registration number. Traffic police fined him Rs 500. “It was a basic violation,” a traffic police officer told INDIA TODAY. Singh regretted the offence, saying he was unaware of the violation.
Singh’s convoy comprises decoy vehicles after he was attacked several times in the wake of his photograph appearing in May 2007 dressed like Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh. He and his organisation also face CBI investigations into two murders and a rape case.
GURMIT RAM RAHIM SINGH IN JAIPUR