How ‘Swachh’ is Bhubaneswar? Very unclean, going by the latest ranking of cities under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Of the 476 cities surveyed for their cleanliness parameters, Odisha capital figures at the 331st spot in the country.
So much so for a clean and green capital for which Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) annually spends crores of rupees, particularly on its solid waste management much of which have been outsourced.
What is interesting, Millennium City Cuttack – which struggles to keep itself clean with its old urban designs – is ranked above Bhubaneswar at 296. Pilgrim town Puri that has been at the receiving end for bad waste management and disposal systems also ranks above the State Capital. Puri is ranked 298.
The rankings, announced by the Ministry of Urban Development on Saturday, were based on the extent of open defecation and solid waste management practices followed across the cities.
Karnataka’s Mysuru topped Swachh Bharat rankings with three more cities from the southern state figuring in the Top 10. Neighbouring West Bengal had at least 25 cities and towns among the Top 100.
However, Odisha has fared badly, with Bhubaneswar featuring among the bottom-ranked state capitals. Only Dehradun, Jaipur and Patna performed worse than Bhubaneswar.
That was not all, among the least performing urban areas on the Swachh Bharat parameters, western Odisha town Sambalpur ranked 467th out of 471 cities.
The latest rankings have exposed the ugly face of Bhubaneswar where most of the residential areas are struggling to maintain cleanliness despite BMC’s growing spending on solid waste management. During 2014-15, BMC made a provision of `45 crore for waste management.
Bhubaneswar Mayor Anant Narayan Jena said, BMC has been struggling with overall sanitation issues because the solid waste treatment plant has not come up yet. Similarly, the sewerage line projects have been delayed because the treatment plants are not ready as the tendering process has ended up in legal tangle, he added.
However, the truth lies elsewhere. In most of the wards, solid waste collection and disposal system is dysfunctional. Across the City, the drain construction works are lying incomplete due to encroachment and faulty planning.
“It is high time BMC focussed on real issues than making cosmetic changes such as mobile surveillance systems and online monitoring by spending crores of rupees.”
– Piyush Rout
Urban researcher Piyush Rout says, the low ranking is not surprising but Bhubaneswar performing below Cuttack and Puri has come as a shock. The reality, he says, is people dump their garbage in open and the collection system is extremely flawed. Besides, open defecation exists because there are not enough scientifically designed toilets in the slum areas. The focus should be on quality than on quantity.
“It is high time BMC focussed on real issues than making cosmetic changes such as mobile surveillance systems and online monitoring by spending crores of rupees,” he said.
All the 476 Class-1 cities in 31 States and Union Territories, each with a population of above one lakh were surveyed for assessing total sanitation practices covering a set of parameters including the extent of open defecation, solid waste management, septage management, waste water treatment, drinking water quality, surface water quality of water bodies and mortality due to water born diseases etc.
The survey conducted during 2014-15 was commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development as required under the National Sanitation Policy of 2008.
Since the Swachh Bharat Mission is being implemented in urban areas with focus on construction of individual household, community and public toilets to eradicate open defecation and ensure door-to-door collection and disposal of municipal solid waste, all the 476 Class-1 cities have been ranked based on the data pertaining to these elements from out of the date generated in the survey. This helps in assessing the present situation in these cities so that they can undertake necessary interventions to meet Swachh Bharat Mission targets in urban areas.
Over all sanitation rankings of these cities based on a total of 100 marks assigned to different parameters covering all aspects would be announced later. The Swachh Bharat rankings are based on a total of 42 marks including 20 for open defecation indicators and 22 for solid waste management indicators.
Courtesy: The New India Express