March 5, 2021 12:52:53 pm
The tourist town of Shimla, which till just three years ago faced acute drinking water crisis in summer, has been ranked as most liveable among 62 cities with a population under a million in the 2020 Ease of Living Index (EoLI) report released by Centre Thursday.
The report, released by Union minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, stated that Shimla achieved an overall score of 60.90 points in overall 13 categories to grab the top rank. Bhubaneshwar (59.85) and Silvassa (58.43) followed closely.
The Himachal town’s performance has jumped dramatically since the first such assessment completed in 2018, when it was ranked 92 among 111 cities in the country. In 2020, the 111 cities were ranked in two separate categories – cities having a million plus population and those having less a population of less than a million. Bengaluru topped the million plus category, followed by Pune and Ahmedabad.
According to the ministry, the EoLI report measured the well-being of residents in terms of quality of life, economic ability and sustainability, which were measured across 13 categories such as education, health, recreation and environment.
This time, the assessment also incorporated the residents’ views on the services provided by the city administration through a survey conducted early last year, which held a weightage of 30 per cent in the overall score.
“This is a matter of pride for us Citizen-friendly Himachal has made great strides of progress in health, education and road connectivity while there has been a reduction in crime,” said Shimla MLA and state Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj while informing the state Assembly about the rankings.
Talking to the Express, he said that Shimla has witnessed vast improvements in civic amenities during the last two years especially in drinking water supply, cleanliness and garbage collection.
In 2018, the city faced an acute water shortage in the summer due to drying of its sources of water. “Following that crisis, we augmented the existing supply from the Gumma water source to increase it further by 10 million litres daily (MLD), and it did not take a lot of money. Now we are in the process of implementing a World Bank assisted project of over Rs 350 crore which will lift water for the city from the Sutlej river using 18 pumps. It is expected to end all water woes in Shimla by 2050,” Bhardwaj said.
He added that a robust door-to-door garbage collection mechanism exists in the city and charges for garbage collection, electricity and water call all be paid online. “Under the Smart City Mission, we are developing a software to bring various other services online and also for traffic management. Traffic congestion in Shimla continues to remain a weak point, even though many new parkings have been readied, roads widened and new foot over-bridges built,” said the minister.
Last week, Shimla mayor Satya Kaundal announced that the Municipal Corporation will soon propose setting up monorail services in the city under the Smart City Mission.
As per the EoLI report, in quality of life and economic ability, Shimla was ranked 22nd and 4th respectively while in sustainability and citizen perception, it was ranked 2nd and 11th, respectively.
Dharamshala, the only other city from Himachal to be included in the assessment, was ranked 37th overall among the 62 cities.
Along with EoLI, the Centre also released the Municipal Performance Index which judged the performance of municipalities. In terms of municipal performance, Shimla was ranked 24th and Dharamshala 16th.
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