The Centre has told the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that it cannot be considered for a ‘three-star rating’ in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan competition — a national survey of cleanliness — if it fails to charge residents for collecting and disposing garbage. Earlier, the BMC had written the Centre saying it may have to withdraw from the ‘three-star rating’ competition due to the rule directing local civic bodies to charge a fee from residents for garbage collection.
The BMC is yet to decide if it will withdraw from the competition or compete for the ‘two-star rating’, which doesn’t require the charging of a user fee.
In its letter, the BMC had asked the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to reconsider Mumbai’s application for the three-star rating claiming it has met all the other parameters, including door-to-door collection, waste segregation and cleanliness of water bodies.
But the Centre refused to reconsider the application, stating that the solid waste management rules of 2016 define “user fee” as a charge imposed by the local body on a waste generator to cover full or part of the cost of providing door-to-door solid waste collection, transportation, processing and disposal services.
The civic body had applied for the ‘three-star rating’ (self-certification) in December 2018.
However, while uploading the documents, it found that the application is only valid if it charges users a fee. “We are very much a part of the survey. The entire city was surveyed in January on the basis of cleanliness. It’s a cleanliness survey and not about how much the civic authorities charge as user fee,” said Ajoy Mehta, municipal commissioner.
Under Section 368(5) of the MMC Act, 1888, the civic body charges ‘trade refuse charges’ from commercial establishments.
These are collected to sweep, collect and deposit the waste produced while pursuing a trade.