TWO days after the Union Urban Development Ministry declared its ranking of the nationwide cleanliness survey, which showed how Pimpri-Chinchwad had slipped from 9th position in the earlier survey to 72nd position, there seemed to be little sense of urgency and initiative shown by PCMC administration to get its act together vis-a-vis banishing the grime and garbage from the length and breadth of the industrial city. Much to the dismay of residents, the BJP — which used to spare no opportunity to debunk the NCP, former ruling party — seems too have done little to push the civic administration into action, but is squarely blaming Ajit Pawar’s party for the current dismal situation.
In the nationwide cleanliness survey report declared earlier this week, Pimpri-Chinchwad a fall of 63 position from the earlier survey. Indore emerged has India’s cleanest city while Navi Mumbai stood as the cleanest city of Maharashtra. On Saturday, when a Newsline team zig-zagged its way through different parts of the city, it seemed like it did not matter to PCMC officials whether the town was clean or was submerged in mountains of garbage.
Every other garbage container was overflowing. Garbage was seen spilling on to the road and emanating foul smell with passers-by holding their nose. House-flies and other insects were flying around in big numbers in and around the garbage containers, creating health hazards for residents.
Open grounds like the HA ground in Pimpri presented ghastly pictures of garbage dotting major part of the ground where hundreds of youngsters take to various sports. Nullahs, like the ones in Nehrunagar and industrial areas of Bhosari, were choked and stinking as they have always been over the years. The hazardous chemical waste continued to be let out by industrial units on roads and open grounds, unmindful of the threat they pose to the environment. There are several such errant industrial units who are brazenly letting out the dangerous chemical in Indrayani Nagar area, where PCMC standing committee chairperson Seema Savle lives.
The scene — mountains of garbage and choked nullahs — was similar whether it was in Chinchwad assembly constituency represented by Laxman Jagtap, president of BJP Pimpri-Chinchwad or Bhosari assembly constituency represented by BJP MLA Mahesh Landge. Things were no different in Thergaon area where Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne lives. Another Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, in whose constituency Bhosari falls, too is home to tonnes of garbage lying here, there and everywhere.
PCMC’s Joint Municipal Commissioner Dilip Gawde said PCMC has not done as badly as was being projected. “In the earlier survey, we were in 9th position because there were only 70-odd cities. But now there are over 400 cities, which includes much smaller cities compared to Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said. As many as 434 cities with over one lakh population each were included in 2017 survey while 73 cities with over one million population each were part of the 2016 survey. As many as 476 cities over one lakh population each were included in the 2014 survey.
Gawde said the PCMC had done well on the garbage disposal front. “We have received 180 marks out of 200 which gives us the top ranking among all the cities. He said the PCMC’s waste-to-fuel vermicomposting and compost generation projects have fetched outstanding marks. “Similarly, we have also performed better when it comes to garbage collection…,” he said.
When contacted, Municial Commissioner Shravan Hardikar, who recently took charge, said that since the survey was done in January-February, PCMC has done lot of improvements on the cleanliness front. “For example, by March we were open-defecation free. This aspect was obviously not considered by the assessment party,” he said. Hardikar said the assessment is soon going to happen again after the state government itself conducts one.
Hardikar said PCMC will step up efforts to improve door-to-door collection of garbage, its transportation, segregation at source and processing of garbage. “We are confident next time, our rankings will see a drastic turnaround,” he said.
Reacting to the latest government rankings, the ruling BJP blamed it entirely on the previous NCP regime. “The rankings related to the survey done in January-Februray when the NCP was the ruling party. The NCP tried to pull the wool over residents’ eyes by false parading one award or the other it apparently got for keeping the town clean. Their acts are now being exposed as Pimpri-Chinchwad has performed badly on the cleanliness front in the country,” said BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar.
BJP said there was no mechanism whatsoever in place in Pimpri-Chinchwad. “Whether it was disposal of household waste, medical waste, non-vegeterian waste or e-waste, they are all dumped together. There is no separate mechanism in place for collecting and disposing garbage,” said Kamtekar.
BJP said it would soon come up with a concrete waste collection and disposal policy which will ensure that Pimpri-Chinchwad regains its past glory and emerged as the cleanest city.
Civic activists, meanwhile, said it was a wake-up call for the officials. “Everyone was thinking that Pimpri-Chinchwad was among the cleanest cities in the country. It’s an insult to the residents of Pimpri-Chinchwad. It’s time officials and the rulers make some sincere efforts to keep the city clean and ensure health of the citizens,” said activist Manav Kamble. Another activist Shridhar Chalkha said, “The fall in rankings should serve as a wake up call for civic officials to put their best foot forward. One hopes they will now go all out to make Pimpri-Chinchwad truly a clean and beautiful city.”
The survey of 434 cities, conducted was part of the Modi government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The campaign, which took off in 2014, is aimed at making India clean and open-defecation free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi. Cities were evaluated on five parameters — waste collection, solid-waste management, construction of toilets, sanitation strategies and behaviour change communication.