CONSIDERED ONE of the cleanest cities in the country, Chandigarh this year slipped to 20th position in the clean cities survey. The results of the survekshan disappointed the residents. The Punjab and Haryana High Court too went to the extent of saying that remove the word ‘beautiful’ from the City Beautiful tag given to Chandigarh.
In 2017, a survey by Centre for Science and Environment found Chandigarh to be one of the dirtiest cities in the country, purely on its waste disposal inefficiency. “Chandigarh may outwardly look clean, but the city suffers from an absence of garbage segregation at source,” Swati Singh Sambyal, co-author of the report, had said at the time.
It was easy for Chandigarh to brush off CSE’s findings as a survey by an NGO. Had the civic body paid attention to the findings, city would not have slipped to this rank.
Waste management is one area where Chandigarh is defaulting. In 2017, two coloured bins were distributed to people to encourage them to segregate waste — dry waste in blue bins and green waste in green bins. Several deadlines were set but it never took off.
The civic body has remained at loggerheads with the company managing the waste processing at the garbage processing plant at Dadumajra. It is stated that the company processes only 30 per cent of the waste while the rest is dumped at the dumping ground.
Chandigarh produces 450 tonnes of garbage per day, which is about 450 gms of waste per head, or 164.25 kgs per head in a year. The daily total solid waste is up from 250-300 tonnes in 2013, and at this rate, is expected to touch 700 tonnes. This, at a time, when the world’s best cities are moving to “zero” waste practices.
At present,70 per cent of the 450 tonnes per day is going to Dadumajra dumping ground, the level of which is now higher than the level of the houses located in the area.
Waste segregation at household level doesn’t kick off
A whopping amount of Rs 3 crore was spent on purchasing the twin coloured bins — blue and green — to distribute among city residents for waste segregation. In 2017, the bins were distributed to residents but the waste segregation project never kicked off. Residents had even claimed that the bins were not of a particular size but the civic body went on to purchase them. Different deadlines were given to implement the waste segregation but nothing happened.
Not just this, councillors splurged public money on study tours as well to study sanitation but never implemented it on the ground. Different groups of councillors visited Indore, Mysuru, Visakhapatnam, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore to study the sanitation. The commissioner and former mayor also went to Indore to study the model and implement it in Chandigarh. But all seemed to be on papers, when it came to implementing the studies here.
Why MC has been unable to take over garbage collection
In order to enforce segregation, the civic body had decided to take over the garbage collection. Door-to-door garbage collection in Chandigarh is done by independent garbage collectors and they are not under the MC. MC on the lines of Indore had decided to take over the collection which led to protests by garbage collectors. SC councillors, particularly Rajesh Kalia, now mayor, opposed the MC’s decision, joined garbage collectors in their protests, empowered them that subsequently led to this fall.
When the civic body in September last year decided to take over garbage collection, the collectors went on a strike. As the deadlock continued for over 15 days, MC had to succumb and independent collectors were asked to resume services. Later in November, the officers were asked to bring the detailed agenda again, but SC councillors resisted and the house agreed to sign an MoU with independent garbage collectors to ensure segregation. The MoU has still not been put in place yet.
Now fine of Rs 10,000 for littering
After slipping to the 20th rank, a notification was issued that anyone who litters will be fined Rs 10,000. The civic body then went on a challaning spree to discourage people from littering.
Littering means throwing waste in public places and water bodies or disposing of the garbage on the road. Not removing faeces of pets will also cost Rs 10,000 to the owners.
The defaulters who are challaned are given seven days’ time to deposit the challan amount in the office of medical officer of health at Sector 17.
If they fail to do so, it is added in the water bill of the violator and sent home.
Officials of the sanitation wing said that if a person finds anyone littering, he can click his picture or a video and post it on the mobile app, Swachhta app, along with the location.