In the Swachh Survekshan rankings released last week, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation slipped from the 32nd rank in 2018 to 138 this year. The result was surprising as the civic body enjoys a revenue surplus unlike the East and North. SDMC mayor Narender Chawla tells The Indian Express what went wrong and the measures he will take to improve rankings.
Your ranking slipped over a hundred points. What went wrong in just a year?
The slip in ranking is something to ponder over, identify where we have gone wrong and rectify it. But we must also understand that the Swachhta exercise can never be successful without people’s participation… we need active participation from people. This year, points for successful waste segregation was considerably increased, which could be why we fell behind.
You are stressing on people’s participation? Does this mean cities like Indore, Ahmedabad — among the cleanest cities — fared better as people there have better civic sense?
Inculcating awareness on sanitation is also the civic body’s duty. If people are not aware, our officials need to do more on this front. Another reason that affected our cleanliness initiatives was zero support from the state government on whom we are dependent for funds. We were entitled to Rs 1,400 crore as per the 3rd finance commission. But after the recommendation of the 5th commission, we will get just Rs 430 crore. The government has said they will implement this retrospectively from 2016, which means we will have to pay them money.
AAP is a different party, but your own leaders had said the Centre will provide funds and bailout packages before the MCD polls.
The three MCDs received Rs 300 crore each under the Swachh Bharat programme from Union Minister Hardeep Puri for buying mechanical sweepers and other machines to contain pollution and improve cleanliness. But under the federal structure, they cannot give us money for other expenses.
Toilets in your areas have been locked even after completion due to lack of manpower. Has anything been done?
We wanted to hire 4,000 private personnel to maintain toilets and parks, but couldn’t due to a fund crisis. We had to stall several works due to the 5th finance commission recommendations, which has cut our source of revenue.
The Solid Waste Management Bylaws have been notified, but there is hardly a house in South Delhi where waste is segregated. In such a scenario, how do you propose to improve rankings?
We have given an undertaking in court that we will implement it in phases. We request people to support us in this. A fresh push will be given and fines will be issued to those who do not segregate waste. Before that, we will hold awareness exercises.