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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Swachh Survekshan 2021: Rank raises stink as City Beautiful dumped at 66th spot, down 50 steps from last year

Last year, Chandigarh had ranked 16th nationally and eighth in the 10 lakh plus category, thus bringing the overall performance down by several notches.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 21, 2021 2:36:50 am
Smoke over Dudumajra Garbage Dumping Ground a day after fire in Chandigarh on Thursday, April 01 2021. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh) Local Caption *** Smoke over Dudumajra Garbage Dumping Ground a day after fire in Chandigarh on Thursday, April 01 2021. Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh

Chandigarh had a big fall as it ranked 66th nationally (score-wise) and clinched 16th rank in the 10 lakh plus population category in the Swachh Survekshan 2021 results declared Saturday.

The results were declared in Delhi with President Ram Nath Kovind giving away prizes. Indore bagged the first position, followed by Surat and Vijayvada. Of the total 6,000 marks, Chandigarh got an overall score of 4,277.29. Last year, the city had got a score of 4,970.07. Score-wise Chandigarh ranked 66 which included all urban local bodies. In the sub-category of 10 lakh and above population, Chandigarh got rank 16 out of 48 urban local bodies that fall in this category.

Last year, Chandigarh had ranked 16th nationally and eighth in the 10 lakh plus category, thus bringing the overall performance down by several notches. This year, the survekshan included components of service level progress, certification and citizens voice. There was disappointment for city residents as in the top 25 cities declared by the government in more than 1 lakh category, Chandigarh’s name didn’t figure at all.

This time, the survekshan covered 4,320 cities, including 62 cantonment boards. Swachh Survekshan 2021 was completely digitised as the data was collected through multifarious platforms like apps and portals, especially designed for conducting the assessment. The assessment began from March 1, 2021 to March 31, 2021. The survey was divided into three major parts — Service Level Progress (25 indicators). SLP comprises waste segregation and collection, processing and disposal of waste and sustainable sanitation. The second part was certification which had two indicators and cities were certified on the basis of star rating of garbage free city (GFC), ODF+/ODF++/Water+ parameters for certification. The third component, that is Citizens’ Voice, had 25 indicators. It comprised citizen feedback, citizen engagement and experience, Swachhata app and innovations and best practices.

While 30 per cent weightage, that is 1,800 marks, was allocated to citizens’ voice criteria, 40 per cent weightage, that is 2,400 marks, was allocated to service level progress and 30 per cent was given to certification, that is 1,800 marks. Chandigarh scored 2004.48 marks in service level progress, 1372.81 marks in citizen voices and only 900 marks out of 1,800 in certification category. In the citizen voices, there was feedback from 2,00,950 people.

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has been participating in Swachh Survekshan ever since its inception. In 2016, it had secured second rank among 73 cities with a population of more than one lakh. In 2017, the city stood at the 11th position among 434 cities and in 2018, it got the second rank after Indore among 4,203 cities across the country.

Since then its situation kept deteriorating and Chandigarh bagged 20th position in 2019. In 2020, it got 16th rank. In 2016, the survekshan started with 73 cities, 434 cities in 2017, 4023 cities in 2018, 4237 cities in 2019, 4242 cities in 2020 and finally 4,320 cities in 2021.

Where did the city lag behind?

One of the biggest areas where the city is said to have lagged behind is the non-functioning of the garbage plant at Dadumajra. It was in 2020 when the agreement with the company, Jaypee group, was terminated by the Municipal Corporation. However, after that the MC said that it would run the waste processing plant until a new company comes forward.

Then there were constant delays in even deciding which technology would run the plant. It was then that the new UT Adviser pulled up officers asking as to why the technology to run the plant was not being decided. A special house was held in July to resolve that a waste-to-energy plant will be there. It has been five months then that the detailed project report hasn’t come.

Segregation: While Chandigarh spent Rs 34 crore on the new twin bin vehicles for enforcing segregation, the work wasn’t taking place in many areas. Since September 2018, there were attempts to take over the waste collection but the matter was being delayed by the public representatives. When the MC eventually decided to take over waste collection on September 14, 2018, there were protests by the waste collectors. MC officials, however, said that a bunch of disgruntled elements is misleading garbage collectors. They had said that the genuine garbage collectors are willing to join the MC, but certain union leaders are misleading them because they have vested interests in these collectors.

There were allegations that some councillors were also misleading them. The year 2019 passed but waste collection was not taken over. Then last year-end, finally the waste collection began with Municipal Corporation beginning its collections from its own twin bin vehicles.

However, things on the ground were still not visible because of lack of proper enforcement. Despite claiming that segregation was taking place now, the city has been lagging behind.

Crores being spent in the name of swachhta

Every year, Chandigarh has been spending crores in the name of swacchta but the city’s cleanliness has been taking a plunge. The situation has rather deteriorated. From giving funds to a private firm for sweeping in southern sectors to going on study tours, the trend of Chandigarh fairing badly was quite visible. If we go by just the basic amount that is being spent on sanitation (a lot more being spent than this), over Rs 10 crore is being spent every month that includes a majority percentage to the private company that is carrying out sweeping in southern sectors. The Chandigarh civic body pays around Rs 4.5 crore per month to Lions Company for sweeping in southern sectors and around Rs 2.5 crore per month to another company from where they have hired labour for similar work. A separate amount is being spent on maintenance of public toilets every month.

Civic body pats its back for Safaimitra Suraksha challenge 

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation was patting its back for ‘best performing Union Territory under the “Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge” for 2021’. Union Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri gave the award to Ravi Kant Sharma, Mayor, Chandigarh at the ‘Swachh Amrit Mahotsav’ hosted as part of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. He said that Chandigarh emerged as the top performer, across different population categories in the “Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge”.

Many study tours in past but not much difference on ground

Councillors of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation have undertaken several study tours in the name of studying solid waste management. Tours to Indore, Mysuru, Bhopal were also undertaken by different groups but they didn’t really make any difference on the ground.

Over Rs 2.20 crore has already been spent on various study tours in the last years to study solid waste management.

Studying garbage disposal or solid waste management has always been a plea to make study tours. Three councillors and three officers went to Germany, Austria and Italy to study garbage processing plant in the year 2006.

Then, in 2007, a tour to Singapore and Bangkok was made by 18 councillors and two officials. It had cost Rs 15,10,560 to the exchequer. The one to Kolkata and Gangtok in 2010 cost Rs 16,07,791. The money was spent on 14 councillors and two officials.

The councillors had gone to study roads, horticulture, sanitation, water supply and garbage disposal in the hill station so that things can be improved in the city.

The most expensive study tour was organised in 2014 to Chennai, Port Blair and Kolkata which cost the exchequer Rs 28.50 lakh. With about 39 people, including 19 councillors, their family members and UT and MC officials, a trip was made to study various projects like that of sanitation. The councillors during their nine-day tour also visited islands, including Havelok, Ross and Coral, which were not on the itinerary.

In 2015, the then MC commissioner Bhawna Garg and the then joint commissioner Rajeev Gupta visited Coimbatore to study door-to-door garbage collection, but it did not yield any result. In 2016, the then mayor Arun Sood, former MC Commissioner B Purshartha and then medical officer health Dr Parminder Bhatti too visited Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh to study the same.

In 2017, 32 councillors and officers in three different groups went to Mumbai, Pune and Visakhapatnam and the visit cost Rs 18 lakh. The trips were meant to study sanitation and improve water supply. Later, trips to Mysuru and Bhopal were undertaken in 2018 too.

What they say

PAWAN BANSAL, FORMER MP

“With 66th rank score-wise and 16th in 10 lakh plus category, can we even call City Beautiful —- Beautiful? This is so appalling. If you see the score, many other cities have come up and the BJP-run Municipal Corporation actually failed. They got complacent and were rather focused on fighting amongst themselves on petty issues. You see the condition of sanitation. There is litter all around and no effort has been made to beautify the city.

PARDEEP CHHABRA, AAP LEADER

After looking at the scores today, it is clear that from City Beautiful we have become City ‘DIRTYFUL’. All these years, BJP-run Municipal Corporation has done nothing to get the city its original status of cleanest cities. Now it will be really difficult to bring back Chandigarh in top few cities after it reached the 66th position. Rather, the entire House, including mayor, should be disbanded after this.

RAVI KANT SHARMA, MAYOR

I agree for a city like Chandigarh coming on 66th position is slightly big and unfortunate but many parameters could not be fulfilled and many reforms were introduced after February this year when I took charge. And majority of the survekshan had already been conducted. Like our segregation began this February, our DPR for the waste-to-energy plant will be ready next month, our MRF centres were ready this year only. And if we see the positive aspect, we are 16th also in the 10 lakh plus category. With the reforms introduced this year, we will improve in the next year’s results.

DEVINDER SINGH BABLA, LEADER OF OPPOSITION

It has been 26 years since the Municipal Corporation was formed, cleanliness has never been in such a bad condition, since the BJP has occupied the Municipal Corporation. Today Chandigarh has come at 66th place in terms of cleanliness. Every month the Municipal Corporation is spending crores of rupees on the cleanliness of the city. Had the money been invested in the right way, Chandigarh would have been at number 1. When the Municipal Corporation was in the hands of the Congress, it never went below number three in cleanliness.

VINOD VASHISHT, CONVENER, CFORWO

The performance shows alarming gaps by MC in its self-assessments. Neither corporation is actively and objectively engaging with residents nor has it taken any proactive steps in operationalising the city’s sole solid waste incineration waste-to-energy plant which remained non-functional almost whole evaluation cycle of SS2021. City’s SWM end-processing is still amiss, with many garbage vulnerable points throughout the city. Had Chandigarh got 5-star GFC certification this year, its overall score in SS2021 would have surpassed even Indore.”

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