Swachh ranking serves wake-up call

The inability of the civic body to implement and enforce waste management rules and document its work was a major contributor to its dismal performance in the Swachh rankings, said experts.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affair released the Swachh Survekshan 2018 rankings for 485 cities, where Bengaluru was placed at 216, having slid by six positions from the previous year, when it was ranked 210.

The city has yet to regain the highs of 2015, when it held the seventh position, but the very next year, it dropped to 38. It has been downhill since then.

“We have all the processes in place, but implementation and documentation is a big problem. There is no way of proving that a certain ward practices 100% segregation. Even civic officials don't know how to conduct quality assessment. Every claim in the Swachh Survekshan has to be backed up by proof, which was missing in Bengaluru's case,” said V. Ramprasad, solid waste management expert, who was part of the strategy and planning committee of the BBMP for Swachh ranking.

Experts also questioned certain parameters in the rankings, such as marks for the number of litter bins. “We have seen the kind of mess the bins have created in the city, and tried to do away with them,” said a civic official.

The low ranking has come as shock to the civic body, which had set up a war room to focus on improving Bengaluru’s record and improving infrastructure for toilets. The city had scored a zero in Open Defecation Free status last year.

“Comparing Bengaluru with smaller cities is unfair. How can management of a city with a population of a few lakhs be compared with that of a city like Bengaluru, which has a population of over 1 crore?” said N.S. Ramakanth, member, BBMP Solid Waste Management Expert Committee.

But, experts such as Mr. Ramprasad differed on this point and said while the size of cities differ, so do the allocation and resources in hand. “If Indore can top the chart with fewer resources, what stops Bengaluru from performing with a civic budget of over ₹9,000 crores and around 32,000 civic workers?”

Experts also agree that the civic body's efforts to better the rankings came a little too late. “The BBMP cannot begin work in November, just before the ranking exercise begins. They should have planned much in advance,” they said.

A senior BBMP official said, “We tried to fulfil all the criteria and the ranking has come a shock to us. The only reasons for falling in rankings could be that we were unable to declare all the wards as open defecation free and the lack of bins, which has high weightage. Otherwise, in terms of services, we got a decent score. We will take necessary steps to better our position next year.”

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 9:26:33 PM |

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