As part of the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign to mark the 75th year of India’s independence, thousands of households, workplaces, streets, and markets will be adorned with the Indian national flag till 15 August. But, Delhi’s residents are concerned about what happens once the festivities conclude: will these flags be disposed of in a dignified and safe manner or not?
According to the Flag Code of India, 2002, flags must be buried or burnt as a whole in private, and not simply disposed of along with the municipal waste. Section 2.2 (xiii) and Section 3.25 of the code state that when the flag is damaged or soiled, it shall be destroyed as a whole in private, preferably by burning or by any method consistent with the dignity of flag. In no case, can a damaged or torn flag be allowed to remain on display and it should not be cast aside or disrespectfully disposed of, the code states.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi will be distributing two million cloth flags to decorate hundreds of office buildings and public places. The Central government expects more than 200 million households and workplaces to hoist cloth flags across the nation.
Atul Goyal, who heads of United Residents Joint Action URJA, a civil society initiative of 2,500 residents’ welfare associations, stated that there is no clarity on how the distributed flags will be collected back or whether collection drives will be held for torn or damaged flags. “We have a fear that many of them will end up on streets or mixed with municipal waste. It is a big challenge and distributors should also hold drives with the help of RWAs to collect back flags”, he said.
Waste management experts suggest that people should preferably choose sustainable long-term options such as cloth flags, and store them well to be used for the next year. The Flag Foundation of India suggests that old, unclean and torn flags should be destroyed privately by burying them deep or immersing them in the Ganga duly folded.
An MCD official, asking not to be named, told Hindustan Times, “We have instructed all zonal offices for proper disposal of the national flag. Field staff have been directed that in case any flag is found soiled, distorted and damaged, then it will be deposited in the zonal control room by the sanitary inspector of the ward and zone concerned. Thereafter, these would be disposed of as per the directions issued by the ministry of home affairs.” Helpline numbers and details of ward sanitation officials are available on the corporation’s website.
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