Updated: August 21, 2020 8:35:17 am
In the central government’s latest cleanliness survey- Swacch Survekshan- declared Thursday, Panchkula was ranked 56, making it the third cleanest city of Haryana. Those that preceded it are Karnal and Rohtak, ranked 17 and 35, respectively. City’s Singh Nullah and the dumping ground have been blamed as the prime reasons for a low ranking to Panchkula- one of the youngest cities of India.
Even though the district’s overall position improved by 15 ranks, from rank 71 in the first quarter assessment of Swacchta Survekshan announced in April 2019, the ranking fell by two in comparison with the second quarter assessment announced early this year, as the district had stood at 54.
The district’s rank has seen a steady improved in the past few years in the annual cleanliness survey, while neighbouring Mohali has seen a steady fall to rank 157– its worst rank as yet– from 153 last year and 121 in 2017.
The first ever annual survekshan was conducted in Panchkula in 2017, putting the city on rank 211. Panchkula improved by almost 70 ranks the following year, reaching 142 in 2018 and taking a jump of another 70, it reached rank 71 this year.
CM Khattar’s constituency, Karnal, has been Haryana’s cleanest city since the survey began. Even though Panchkula had prepared for the survekshan, it failed to improve its rank.
Meanwhile, neighbouring city Chandigarh, rose from its quarterly assessment rank of 27, to now stand at 16.
The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities.
Though the Panchkula MC had worked hands on, to get all these programmes in place, including door-to-door collection of waste, involving the people of the city in waste management, providing informal workers with uniforms, giving out waste segregation rehris, mandating and challaning non-segregation at source and encouraging people to take up wet-waste composting, several existing problems that mar the district’s waste management practices and are necessary for a good ranking have acted as a hurdle and prevented the city in reaching the top.
One of the major issues is the big nullah that runs between various sectors of the city. The contaminated water body has remained one of the major sources of pollution and nuisance, with people dumping their waste in it. A hefty budget was passed to clean it and develop it on the lines of Chandigarh’s leisure valley.
However, the plan was not realised as officials of the MC and HSVP remained complacent. Meanwhile, the residents have also raised hue and cry over its basic maintenance time and again, but to no avail.
Another stone to add to the glory of the city is a man-made mountain of garbage that supplements the trans-ghaggar sectors not just in sight but in smell as well. The dumping ground of Panchkula has only ever been increasing in size as plans for remediation of its garbage are discussed in offices.
Meanwhile, the residents of sectors next to it are given a deaf ear as they complain against it. A home to several rodents, rotting waste and fires that often breakout inside the dump during summers have failed to attract the attention of the officials.
Even though in June this year, the work to turn the dumping ground into a recreational park was expected to begin as the work order for it had been passed, residents inform that the reality on ground is far from it.
“They had begun some work where they made a hole at the centre of the dump and barricaded the dumping ground but all work stands stopped now. The garbage has broken the barricades and is overflowing onto the road. Nobody seems worried. Such works must be done in a time frame else all officials do is drag their feet, thinking that the next one to get transferred will look after the chore,” said KK Jindal, member of Sector 20 RWA.
“The dumping ground has polluted our water, and reports by NGT and others confirm it, but nothing has been done so far. Stray animals, pests and rodents are our neighbours. No work is being done. I have written several letters to the government but no action has been taken. This was supposed to be temporary when it was built in 2008, but it has been 12 years. The rankings are far better than we deserve,” says Mittal Bhagwan Das, General secretary of Sector 25.
Residents of the area have contently suggested that officials be housed in sectors next to the dumping ground to expedite the work of remediation of waste.
The dumping ground possesses four lakh tonnes of waste, which has to be exhumed and divided into wet, dry and other kinds of waste, after which it is to be treated separately. Almost 60 per cent cost of the project is being borne by the state.
The NGT has, moreover, ordered the MC to get the work done by April 2021, but at the pace at which it’s on-going, the work is set to miss the deadline by a mile.
MC Commissioner Mahavir Singh and MC Joint Commissioner Sanyam Garg remained unavailable for comment.
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