Chandigarh was ranked 16th in the National Swachh Survekshan, results of which were declared on Thursday. Although the city though has gone up by four notches from 20th rank last year to 16th this year, the performance seemed disappointing as the administration was aiming for a rank in top three. This time 4,242 cities participated in the survey.
Of the total 6,000 score this year, Chandigarh scored 4,970.07. Cities like New Delhi, Gandhinagar, Ahemedabad, Rajkot have better positions than Chandigarh. The first rank was clinched by Indore while second and third was bagged by Surat and Navi Mumbai. Indore scored 5,647.56 while Surat and Navi Mumbai scored 5,519.59 and 5,467.89, respectively.
In this year’s survey, there were four components for arriving at overall ranking of a city: certification, direct observation, service level progress and citizen feedback. Each segment has equal weightage of 25% with maximum total marks of 6,000.
Methodology included 1,000 marks to the garbage free cities star rating certifications, 500 weightage to ODF (open defecation free) certification and 200 marks for quarterly service league ranking.
In service level progress, Chandigarh scored 1,144.99 whereas maximum marks scored by any city is 1,431.44 which is by Indore. Similarly, on certification, Chandigarh scored 1,100 whereas all five star cities scored 1,300.
In direct observation, Chandigarh’s score was 1,452.76 while maximum marks obtained in this category were 1,500 by Indore and Surat. In citizen feedback score, the city got 1,272.32 out of 1,500.
The city achieved ODF++ ranking and 3-Star GFC from its earlier ODF and 2-Star GFC status which helped to improve its ranking this year.
HOW CITY FARED IN VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF CATEGORIES
In citizen feedback category, the least score was in Swachhta app (complaints and resolution) in which Chandigarh scored 2,33.61 out of 400. In face-to-face citizen feedback, the score was 832 out of 880 while from other sources it was 206.71 out of 220.
In service-level progress, Chandigarh scored the least in processing and disposal which was 409.90 out of 700. In collection and transporation, they scored 455.83 out of 500 while 420 out of 500 in sustainable solution. Innovation and best practices saw a score of 63 out of 80.
Similary in direct observation, the least was scored in category of cleanliness of vegetable/fruit and meat/fish market which was 123 out of 150.
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. Efforts of Commissioner K K Yadav who tried that MC may take over waste collection went all in vain. Since September 2018, it was being tried but the matter was being delayed by the public representatives.
When 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 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.
POINTS WHERE CITY DEFAULTED
From not being able to bring independent waste collectors under them to not implementing door-to-door segregation of waste, from poor citizen feedback resolution of complaints to poor processing, Chandigarh continues to default in all the aspects.
Vinod Vashisht, convenor of the City Forum of Resident Welfare Organisations, said that MC not only failed to bring waste collectors to the mainstream and implement 100% door-to-door collection of segregated waste but also Chandigarh could not get 5-Star Garbage Free Cities (GFC) Star Certification and its claim for it was rejected to 3-Star Rating.
“Even now, scientific sold waste management processing with zero landfill is also an area where city continues to default. And if you see the complaint redressal mechanism is not in place which is evident from the poor scores/feedback given by residents in Swachhata APP component of score,” he said.
SEVERAL STUDY TOURS BUT NO 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. Many of those who opposed the study tours said that they were more of junkets than study-related trips.
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.
CRORES SPENT IN THE NAME OF SWACHHTA
Crores of rupees have been spent in the name of swachhta but the city’s cleanliness has deteriorated since 2019. City residents have questioned as to where the public funds are actually being utilised when the state of cleanliness is not improving.
From giving funds to private firm for sweeping in southern sectors to going on study tours, trend of Chandigarh fairing badly was quite visible after the results of Swachh Survekshan League 2020 were out wherein the city ranked 11th in the first quarter and 27th in the second quarter in the Swachh Survekshan League 2020.
If we go by just the basic amount that is being spent on sanitation (a lot more being spent than this), 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.
The civic body’s own sanitation workers — around 2,500 of them — are also paid over Rs 5 crore per month in salaries for similar work, which is apart from what these companies are paid. Then around Rs 14 crore is spent on maintaining public toilets every month. This is just the basic amount being spent on sanitation.
Former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that “it’s a very unfortunate and sad day for residents of Chandigarh, a city which is popularly known as the City Beautiful moves down to 16th position in Swachhata rankings”.
Bansal said that the ranking had always been at the top under the Congress regime.
“Now, for the last four years under BJP rule, the rankings have steadily dropped due to bad governance, inefficient administration and the negligence of the Municipal Corporation,” Bansal said.
CITY LIED TO SWACHH BHARAT MISSION
According to a report of the Centre for Science and Environment based on Swachh Bharat Mission inputs, Chandigarh had recorded 95 per cent waste processing, 100 per cent door-to-door collection of garbage and segregation of waste in 24 of the 26 wards.
The Opposition said that “these high claims are not only untrue but border on the ludicrous and bizarre”.
Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla lashed out at Mayor Raj Bala Malik and said that they lied by giving wrong inputs to the ministry.
“Their lies didn’t help much in the ranking. But giving wrong data is not acceptable. Action should be taken against all those responsible for it,” he said.
“One does not need a deep research to find the truth. It presents itself even during a cursory drive in posh sectors of the city, not to talk of its underbelly — the labour colonies. It is either deliberate furnishing of false data or the result of a total loss of touch with the ground and preparation of such reports sitting in the offices concerned of the Administration or the Municipal Corporation,” said former Union minister Pawan Bansal.
Mayor Raj Bala Malik keeps mum
Embarrassed over the city’s poor performance, Mayor Raj Bala Malik did not respond to calls and messages when The Indian Express contacted to know her version on the matter. On her twitter account too, she just shared that Chandigarh has been awarded first place in best city in citizens’ feedback category but nothing on Chandigarh getting an overall 16th rank in the national survey.
It has been eight months since Malik was elected as the mayor but nothing has moved in taking over the waste collection from the independent waste collectors of the city.
The Congress lashed out at Malik saying that “she and BJP councillors cheated and lied to people of Chandigarh”.
Leader of opposition Devinder Singh Babla said that “he will expose the lies in the coming House meeting.”
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