Mumbai has bagged the tag of the cleanest state capital in India in the Swachh Survekshan (cleanliness survey) 2018 rankings announced on Wednesday. The recognition comes at a time when the city is scrambling to deal with its solid waste disposal issues. The results were announced in New Delhi by Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of State (Independent charge) Housing and Urban Affairs. Swachh Survekshan 2018, a pan-Indian exercise to assess cleanliness in urban India, surveyed 4,203 cities this year from January 4 to March 10, 2018.
Mumbai was ranked 29th in the Swachh Survekshan 2017 as compared to its rank of 10 in 2016. While officials listed scores of factors which led to the results this year, activists are questioning the criteria of the survey based on which the city was ranked the cleanest state capital. “Increase in the number toilets, door-to-door garbage collection in slums, closure of open garbage dumps, garbage segregation and treatment helped us grab the position this time. However, instead of looking at what we have achieved, we will now look forward to the challenges before us. Even though there was a quantum jump in number of toilets, we want to push for more toilets and renovation of old ones. We want to put an end to just dumping garbage in landfills and start scientific disposal and treatment of waste. All this is our target for next year,” said BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta.
Assistant commissioner of A ward and BMC’s nodal officer for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Kiran Dighavkar, said, “One of the most important factors where we scored this time was also citizens feedback. This was one area where we lagged behind last year.”
Activists and residents have raised doubts on the criteria for ranking the cities. “I just cannot understand that if Bhopal and Chandigarh are ranked second and third cleanest cities which are state capitals too, then how come Mumbai bagged the status of cleanest state capitals? It seems there is an attempt to accommodate cities in various categories. I would definitely like to study the criteria based on which the rankings were declared,” said Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja Foundation.
Meanwhile, Sarvesh Nagarkar, a resident of Deonar, said, “Seems good work by BMC helped the city bag the rank of cleanest state capital. However, I just wanted to know is it similar to how the city was declared open defecation free (ODF) last year. We have lived near Deonar dumping ground all these years. We are the sufferers, ask us before ranking the city as clean.”
Meanwhile, Manisha Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, said the state’s performance at the Survekshan has been commendable this year. Not just Mumbai but other cities in the state have done very well, she said. “Out of the 52 categories under the survey, Maharashtra has bagged 10 places. Apart from Mumbai being ranked as cleanest state capital, Navi Mumbai and Nagpur have been ranked as best performing cities in cleanliness. Panchgani was ranked the cleanest city in the west zone, Shendrajanaghat ranked as best city in the citizen feedback in west zone, Sasvad was best city in innovation and best practices in west zone. Bhusaval, Bhiwandi and Parbhani have been ranked under ‘greatest improvement over last year’ category. Maharashtra has been ranked as the second best performing state after Jharkhand…,” Mhaiskar said.
Assistant commissioner of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) Ankush Chavan said, “It is a win for the public, the mayor and the employees of NMMC. Everyone worked very hard with dedication to make the city clean and the result is in front of us.”
Speaking about success of the Swacch Bharat mission in Navi Mumbai, Chavan said, “Not only us, but the housing societies took active part in cleanliness. They came up with innovative methods of reusing and recycling. We have to thank them for this win.”
However, the NMMC is not satisfied with the results. “We wanted to perform better, which we couldn’t because of some shortcomings. This year, our agenda is to perform better and make Navi Mumbai even cleaner and better,” Chavan said.
with inputs from Gargi Verma