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Swachh Survekshan: Even as Vadodara ranked 8th cleanest city, housing colonies reel under poor sanitation; vector-borne diseases highest since 2017

The civic body has undertaken cleanliness drives across the city in the last month, but the housing colonies allotted by the VMC for rehabilitation of residents from demolition drives are filled with heaps of garbage.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodara |
November 21, 2021 2:01:35 am
Heaps of garbage and broken sewage lines have resulted in an unbearable stench and filth in the housing colonies alloted by VMC for various rehabilitation schemes in the Maneja and Khodiyar Nagar areas of the city. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Even as the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has bagged the eighth spot in the list of cleanest cities of the annual Swachch Surveskshan 2021 Saturday, Vadodara city is recording the highest number of vector-borne cases since 2017 this year.

The civic body has undertaken cleanliness drives across the city in the last month, but the housing colonies allotted by the VMC for rehabilitation of residents from demolition drives are filled with heaps of garbage.

On Saturday, The Sunday Express visited four housing colonies maintained by the VMC — in Maneja, Tarsali, and Khodiyar Nagar areas. With sewage water from damaged drainage lines mixed with heaps of garbage, the colonies are plagued with infectious diseases.

At Maneja, where the VMC has allocated homes to residents displaced from Kalyannagar slums in 2014 and later to residents displaced from Badshah Nagar and other demolition drives, the walkway between two buildings resembles a gutter — the black sewage water is mixed with garbage with visible clusters of insect eggs as well as flying insects.

The residents maneuver their way through the overflowing drainage water in the colonies and the stench is unbearable.

Mohammad Ghulam, a resident in Maneja, says, “We have made several complaints to the ward office but no one attends to our grievance. They last came to clean up the place a month ago… Every family has a sick member here. My 10-year-old daughter is down with viral infections and fever…” Residents say that the VMC supplies drinking water by tankers and women queue up in the filth to fill up the vessels.

In the Khodiyar Nagar area, where residents had shifted in 2016, heaps of garbage have not been picked up but drainage lines are not damaged. Geeta Suryavanshi, a resident says, “The VMC is least bothered about us. When they had moved us here in 2016, we lived several days without water supply and electricity. Now, we are living in piles of garbage. We have had a bomb of dengue and malaria cases here and also gastritis and other infections…”

The year-wise health summary of the VMC Health department indicates Vadodara has reported the highest number of lab-confirmed dengue with 2,296 cases this year since 2017.

Similarly, the number of lab-confirmed chikungunya cases is at 1,403 — the highest since 2017.

Medical Officer for Health Dr Devesh Patel said that the department had found “no specific” reason for the spike in the number of vector-borne diseases this year.

Incidentally, the VMC earned 4,747.96 of 6,000 points in the annual survey of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Saturday with Mayor Keyur Rokadia and Municipal Commi-ssioner Shalini Agarwal receiving the citation for the three-star rating for being “Garbage Free”.

When contacted Virendra Rathwa, Ward officer for VMC’s administrative Ward No 12, under whom the Maneja housing project falls, said, “We have added the housing colony under the 100 days cleanliness drive… we clean the place on a weekly basis. The issue has arisen because of a damaged sewage pipeline in the colony that has created filth all over but the repair of the drainage line is under the engineering department. People also litter the place from their own windows.”

Municipal Commissioner Shalini Agarwal, who had visited New Delhi, along with Mayor Keyur Rokadia, to collect the felicitation received by the VMC said that all the departments were working to identify and clean up all areas but the onus of keeping surroundings clean also lies with the residents.

Agarwal said, “I have personally visited some of these housing schemes last month when dengue cases were at their peak.. they were in a bad shape. The ward offices had launched a cleanliness campaign and had cleared all garbage from the locations. The repair works are also regularly undertaken… The housing societies actually need to form committees of residents and maintain their internal roads and space. The Ward offices are trying to persuade the residents to form these cooperative societies.”

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