This year, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) managed to break into the top 10 of the ‘100 cleanest cities’ in India, as judged by the Swachh Survekshan, a survey under the Union government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Mission. The civic body was at the 11th position in 2016 and had slipped to the 13th place in 2017.
Now, the civic body is aiming higher: to improve its ranking in the Swachh survey that will be undertaken next year, it has appointed a private agency, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, for three months at a cost of Rs 35.30 lakh. The agency’s tasks include setting up a project implementation unit (PIU) that will study the PMC’s cleanliness initiatives this year, and planning programmes and projects to improve “problem areas”.
The agency will also help the civic administration complete the paperwork for the survey. It will coordinate with agencies that are undertaking on-site inspections across the city and encourage local residents to participate in the survey.
PMC aims higher for next year’s Swachh survey
The appointment of a private agency for three months, to improve the Pune Municipal Corporation's ranking in the Swachh Survekshan 2019, is aimed at helping the civic body get a good rank in the survey, which selects the 100 cleanest cities in India. The agency will help identify 'problem spots' that require the civic body's attention. This year, PMC was ranked 10th in the survey. But the appointment of an agency for only three months is unlikely to bring any changes on the ground. The PMC has already appointed another agency to plan projects to carry out cleanliness activities. The civic body is known for its waste collection initiative and decentralisation of waste processing, and representatives of other cities visit Pune to study the efforts made by it.
Incidentally, the PMC has also signed another agreement with E&Y Young LLP, to help it prepare a draft plan for the solid waste management department of the civic body. The agency will help the department implement the draft plan, impart specific training to the civic staff, execute new programmes to increase the revenue and collect data on cleanliness initiatives.
The PMC has sanctioned Rs 99.49 lakh to the agency for its service for 12 months.
In the proposal on the appointment of KPMG, Municipal Commissioner Saurabh Rao said, “There is no inclusion of… Swachh survey in the agreement with the E&Y. If it is asked to extend its services for the Swachh survey, then it will create problems in the implementation… and there is a need for appointing a separate agency to work towards improving our ranking in the Swachh survey”.
The PMC has justified KPMG’s appointment by citing a communication by the Centre, which had informed the state government that the agency has been selected to provide services for setting up state-level Project Management Units (PMUs) and city-level PIUs for 10 cities in Maharashtra, but Pune city is not one of them.
Standing Committee chairperson Yogesh Mulick, however, was unable to explain the reason behind appointing the agency for Swachh survey when it was not recommended for the PMC. Instead, he said, “The agency will help the civic body improve its ranking in the survey for the 100 cleanest cities in the country. The civic bodies of Mumbai, Nagpur and neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad are appointing the agency, so there’s no harm if the PMC appoints it as well”.
Meanwhile, various civic organisations have been writing to the Union government and raising doubts about the ranking of the PMC in this year survey by pointing out the many unclean and unhygienic areas in the city.
Qaneez Sukhrani of Nagrik Chetna Manch had even submitted some photographs to show the mismanagement of the solid waste management system.