This week, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said in Parliament that “Chandigarh has consistently been performing well during the last five years in swachhta survekshan”. However, the minister’s statement hasn’t gone down well with city residents and other political leaders who said that Puri must visit the city to see the ground reality.
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Puri said that Chandigarh has been performing consistently well during the last five years in the Swachh Survekshans (SSs), which includes solid waste management (SWM) as one of the parameters.
He stated that to further improve the performance in SWM, various steps have been taken by the government, which inter alia includes funding of SWM projects; issuance of directions, advisories and guidelines on SWM (door-to-door collection, source segregation and processing); organising capacity building (CB) workshops; and reviewing performance periodically.
But the ground reality is different.
In the last five years, waste processing in the city has taken a hit. In June, due to constant tussle with the Jaypee group that was managing the garbage processing plant, the plant was taken over by the Municipal Corporation. Now the processing of waste is much less. Sources said that only 40 to 50 tonnes of waste out of the total 480 tonnes is being taken on the plant premises and being processed and the rest is being dumped in the dumping ground.
Segregration of waste
Chandigarh kicked off the campaign of segregation of waste in June 2017. Since then the city has not been able to implement segregation of waste at household level.
At one time, officials said that they will bring independent waste collectors under them. Only then will they be able to implement waste collection. But efforts to bring waste collectors under the civic body also went in vain.
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.
The MC failed to bring waste collectors to the mainstream and implement 100 per cent door-to-door collection of segregated waste in the city.
Flooded Sehaj Safai Kendras
Sehaj Safai Kendras in various sectors of the city remain flooded with garbage. Most of the residents complain that even the back lanes are not cleaned and the SSKs are found flooded with collectors not picking up the waste dumped for days. They say that the situation is worse in rainy season as it stinks.
In 2016, it had secured second rank among the 73 million-plus population cities. In 2017 Swachh Survekshan, the city was at the 11th rank among 434 cities of more than 1 lakh population.
In 2018, Chandigarh was second runner-up (third rank) among 4,203 cities across the country. In 2019, Chandigarh came down to 20th position and now it occupies the 16th position.
What they have to say
Vinod Vashisht, Convener, City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisation (CFORWO): Nothing to read from the recent politically crafted statement of Urban Affairs Minister on Chandigarh. In the last five years, the city has seen dwindling performance in Swachhata Survekshans with its national cleanliness ranking drastically falling down to 16th position this year from once being second cleanest city of the country in 2016. Local body executive is unable to deliver to their optimum level in SWM initiatives due to absence of ownership and accountibilty of councillors in the House.
Kidar Nath Sharma, Vice-Chairman, FOSWAC: Solid waste management in Chandigarh has really deteriorated year after year for the last five years. For segregation of garbage, the Municipal Corporation has failed to provide proper vehicles to the door-to-door garbage collectors. The garbage collected by them is also not being processed properly and fully.
Major DP Singh, patron, CRAWFED: Unfortunately, the City Beautiful has gone down many steps in the previous years. This has been due the poor regular collection of heaps of garbage lying in various sectors. Management of solid waste is also poor where segregations has virtually failed. MC with the cooperation of RWAs need to work hard. Hundred per cent garbage collection from house to house in segregated form should take place mandatorily.
Prem Garg, president, AAP Chandigarh: In Chandigarh segregation of garbage has been a total failure resulting in mountain line garbage dump. MC took over garbage processing plant with much fanfare, but couldn’t run it for a single day.
Devinder Singh Babla, Congress Councillor: I really wish that Hardeep Puri had visited Chandigarh to see the ground situation once. Just by sitting in Delhi, you can’t really know what’s happening in Chandigarh. There was a time a few years back when Chandigarh would come on second rank in the survey and now it is on 16th or 21st rank. If he sees city ranking himself, he will see that the situation has rather not improved but deteriorated. Waste is not being processed. All is going in dumping ground. Sehaj Safai Kendras are all flooded. He should visit Chandigarh to see the real situation before commenting that the situation has improved.
Pawan Bansal, former MP: The ground reality is completely contrary to the statement Puri has given. The performance has not improved but rather deteriorated. And that can be visible from the garbage mound at the dumping ground which is increasing each day. They say that they are open defecation-free but the toilets they have constructed in the colonies they should see if they are usable or not. I will say that this money has gone down the drain.
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