SEVEN OF the 17 cities in Punjab are ranked in the bottom 100 of the 476 cities in the country, surveyed for cleanliness under the the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Of these, Hoshiarpur is the dirtiest (447) followed by Malerkotla (431) and Barnala (439). The other four are Amritsar (430), Abohar (420), Muktsar (384) and Ludhiana (381).
The survey, conducted by the Union Urban Development Ministry (UUDM), is based on a combination of secondary data of the respective cities obtained through on-ground inspections of how many households used toilets; whether public community toilets were functional; establishments covered by daily door-to-door garbage collection; and the proportion of waste processed in a recycling facility operated by municipalities, among others.
The Indian Express attempts to understand why these cities were ranked in the bottom half of the list. Almost all these cities lack proper sewer garbage management and public community toilets.
Hoshiarpur: Rank 447
THOUGH Hoshiarpur is among the green cities of Punjab — it has one of the highest forest covers in the state due to its location at the base of the Shivalik foothills — it has lagged behind on the parameters adopted for the cleanliness survey. Around 20 per cent of the city is yet to be covered by sewer lines. The city’s first sewerage treatment plant (STP) is still under construction at Pipplawala village. There is no solid waste management plant in the city yet.
Authorities and residents are, however, surprised at the city being ranked as the dirtiest in Punjab. Mayor Shiv Sood said he was not aware of the survey. “We have around 350 safai karamcharis who clean the roads and streets every day. We have also installed dumping bins at every nook and corner of the city,” he said, adding that the city is set to have a STP very soon.Garbage is currently being dumped at Pipplawala dumping place. There is no public toilet system here and sources said nearly 300 households have yet to get their own toilets.
Malerkotla: Rank 439
The city is only partially covered by a sewer system and has no proper garbage collection system. Waste is dumped along Matohi road outside the city. “This dump is also not adequate to accommodate the daily generated garbage and people are welcomed by this dump when they enter Malerkotla,” said Farooqi, a city resident. The sewerage of the entire city goes through a rain drain and confluence into the Lasala drain which is further used for irrigation ahead of Malerkotla.
Barnala: Rank 431
THIRD from the bottom in Punjab, Barnala had received Rs 108 crore for a sewer project before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The foundation stone had also been laid by Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal but nothing is yet to take off on the ground. Even mild rainfall is enough to inundate the city. An STP is operational on Thikriwala road but the old sewer pipes of the city are not fit to transport waste to the plant, reasons Gurdev Singh, a resident. There are four vacant spaces where the garbage is being dumped for the past seven years.
Amritsar: Rank 430
Around 1,800 sanitation workers have 35 hoes and no baskets to collect 700 tonnes of waste per day in Amritsar. A solid waste management project has been stuck for the last six years due to the lack of political will to make it a reality. According to the Kishore Kumar, store keeper of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, the civic body used 500 litres of Phenyl and the same quantity of acid to keep its toilets clean over the last two years. “We do not even have tools to collect the waste. How can you keep the city clean without basic tools to clean it,” asks Safai Mazdoor Union President Vinod Bitta. “Around 500 posts of sanitation workers are vacant and 500 more new posts are required. Nearly Rs 5 crore is being paid annually to contractors to hire 65 tractor-trolleys to collect waste from the city even though the MC could have brought its own fleet of tractor-trolleys with the same amount. This is mismanagement,” he alleged.
While Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal paid a visit to the site of the proposed solid waste management plant at Bhagttan on Sunday and assured that the plant would be a reality soon, residents are familiar with such claims as the same promises have been made since 2009, when then MP Navjot Singh Sidhu first mooted the idea.
Abohar: Rank 420
THE constituency of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, who has raised the issue of its cleanliness in the Vidhan Sabha. The sewer pipes here are 50 years old and have minimum suction power, though the city has a STP. Due to the poor pumping facilities, sewer water overflows in the city. In the recent rainfall, over 100 houses were damaged while last year, rains caused low-lying areas to be flooded apart from damaging 350 houses. Jakhar said: “A Rs-72 crore sewer upgradation project was sanctioned for Abohar and a foundation stone was also laid but when the new Central government scrapped all projects relating to the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, Abohar was among them. So what is the point of doing such a survey and labelling cities as dirty and clean when the Centre themselves scrapped JNNURM projects. Our garbage dump is in front of a few colonies and a cremation ground. One can easily imagine the hygiene in the city,” Jakhar said.
Muktsar: Rank 384
The VVIP city is CM Parkash Singh Badal’s home town. A solid waste management was to come up here and handle garbage of Ferozepur and Faridkot as well. The private company tasked with the work failed to make any headway in the project, following which its contract was cancelled. The city now grapples with a garbage problem. While Mukstar does have two STPs, with a combined capacity to treat 15 million litres of sewerage water per day, only one is functional.
Ludhiana; Rank 381
TOUTED as the most developed city in Punjab, Ludhiana has secured a low 381 with the ground reality seeming to justify the ranking. The city struggles to handle its garbage and the MC recently terminated the contract of A2Z, the company hired for door-to-door garbage collection and disposal, after it failed to do ‘satisfactory’ work. On a daily basis, 1,100-1,300 tonnes of garbage is produced in Ludhiana and dumped at Tajpur road. Another dumping site at Jainpur is under the Pollution Control Board scanner after nearby localities complained against it. The MC had aimed to make 34 wards ‘dustbin free zones’ but is way short of its target and since 2011, when A2Z was hired, only 24 per cent of the total 3.5 lakh households come under the door-to-door collection system.
Ludhiana MC officials, however, also claimed they were ‘not made part of any such survey’ and that ‘they fail to understand the ranking given to the city.’ J S Sekhon, head of sanitation and the health department said, “I recently visited Jalandhar and their condition is at par with Ludhiana. They have no exceptional cleanliness standards but it has been given the 28th rank. We have failed to understand the parameters of the survey.”
Inputs from Kamaldeep Singh Brar, Raakhi Jagga, Divya Goyal and Anju Agnihotri Chaba
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