Steps taken to improve city’s Swachh Survekshan ranking

Segregated collection and process of wet waste at micro composting centres is expected to help the Corporation improve Coimbatore’s Swachh Sarvekshan ranking this year.

Segregated collection and process of wet waste at micro composting centres is expected to help the Corporation improve Coimbatore’s Swachh Sarvekshan ranking this year.   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had ranked the cities on various cleanliness and waste management parameters

In the recently released Swachh Survekshan League rankings, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs ranked Coimbatore in the 31st place among cities with over 10 lakh population in the first quarter of 2019-20 and in the 34th spot in the second quarter. The results are an indication of how the city will fare among its peers – cities over 10 lakh population – in the annual Swachh Survekshan ranking, for which the Coimbatore Corporation and the Ministry have begun preparations.

But before proceeding to look at how the city could fare this year, a look at the past few years' rankings will be of help.

When the Ministry released the rankings for the first time for 2014-15, it had placed Coimbatore in the bottom half of the list, ranking it at 140. The Corporation officials had said the civic body not properly responding to the Ministry's questionnaire was the reason for the poor marks then. The next year, the Ministry ranked Coimbatore at 18, awarded the 16th place in 2016-17 and also 2017-18 and in the last year's ranking, it placed the city at the 40th place.

The Ministry had ranked the cities on various cleanliness and waste management parameters that included coverage of door-to-door collection of waste, segregated collection, proper disposal among others. Even as it continued the rankings, the Ministry evolved the guidelines and introduced star ranking of cities by making the evaluation process not a one-time affair but a 12-month a year exercise, forcing cities to work round-the-clock to improve waste management in the race to become a garbage-free city.

The Ministry had introduced seven stages of star rating in such a way that only it could grant the three-star, five-star and seven-star rankings, each being a benchmark. As for the others, the applicant cities could claim those by submitting documents and having those validated.

Steps taken to improve city’s Swachh Survekshan ranking

This year – 2019-20 – Coimbatore or for that any city in the State is not eligible for even the one-star rating, says a Corporation officer.

To be eligible for the first-star rating, Corporation has to show the Ministry that it has implemented door-to-door collection of waste in at least 60% of the 100 wards. As that is not the case, the city is not eligible.

The city is ineligible for the rating in the second component as well, as the corporation cannot show that at least 25% of the households practise segregated disposal of waste, the officer points out. This, however, does not mean that the city will not be ranked.

The Ministry will evaluate the documents that the Corporation submits for the Swachh Sarvekshan ranking and also study the report from the independent agency it has appointed to inspect cities and based on the ground reality and city's performance vis-a-vis its peers, it will rank the city.

Though this does not markedly brighten the city’s prospects of improving its ranking from the last year, things are definitely looking up, the officer assures and refers to some of the activities that the Corporation has undertaken in the past few months.

In the garbage-free city protocol, based on which the Ministry awards star ratings, the Corporation has started moving on several fronts at once (see table).

Corporation Commissioner Sravan Kumar Jatavath says the civic body has improved door-to-door waste collection coverage, processing legacy waste – waste accumulated over the years and dumped in Vellalore—by going in for bio-mining at ₹52 crore, using separate vehicles to collect wet waste and process those at micro composting centres.

The Corporation has a few months ago started sweeping roads and public places at night, using technology to track movement of vehicles used in waste collection, processing garden waste separately at parks, engaging non-government organisations or start-ups to collect waste from apartments, categorised bulk waste generators, and handle e-waste generated in city.

The officer said that the corporation has started the door-to-door waste collection and segregated that in Kavundampalayam and is also testing the vehicle tracking feature there. It has given work orders to construct nearly 51 micro compost centres to process wet waste and of those four are operational.

These measures will help the corporation improve the city’s ranking but it may not happen this year.

By next year – 2020-21 – the corporation’s measures will propel the city to the top 10 cities Swachh Survekshan ranking. He was sure of saying this because the Corporation’s measures in the past few months have started showing results.

The measures need some refinement. Once it is done, all that the Corporation should do is just scale it up to all the 100 wards.

But there appears to be two formidable steps if the Corporation has to really take the city to the top 10 – construction and debris waste management and use fee collection from public.

One of the steps in the protocol is the establishment of a construction and debris waste management plant in the city to handle construction waste. Though the Coimbatore Corporation took steps more than three years ago to have one, its efforts have not come to fruition. This continues to stick like a sore thumb but the civic body is working at it, says the officer.

Mr. Jatavath says that the Corporation recently engaged the builders’ association and very soon the city will see forward movement on this front. As for the collection of user fee from the city’s residents for the waste they generate, sources say the Corporation is working at it too. Sometime ago, the Corporation began collection but had to suspend the move following political opposition. How it surmounts the odds to improve its ranking remains to be seen, the officer adds.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:46:54 AM |

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