How Indore became the cleanest city in India

Published - October 06, 2017 03:37 pm IST

A garbage truck with partitions for collecting organic and inorganic waste.   Photo: Special Arrangement

A garbage truck with partitions for collecting organic and inorganic waste. Photo: Special Arrangement

Nothing works better than the carrot-and-stick policy. The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) would testify to this. As part of its waste management strategy, IMC honours those who display exemplary initiative in tackling waste in their neighbourhood, offering them a one-on-one with the Mayor or the Corporation Commissioner. And, litterbugs invite a hefty fine.

Given this, it was not surprising that IMC was ranked the cleanest city in India, according to Swachh Survekshan 2017, an initiative of the Urban Development Ministry.

No short-cuts and quick-fixes, but a long and laborious road led to this honour. In 2015-16, IMC adopted the “binless city model”. To start with, it was introduced in two wards and then slowly extended to the other wards. IMC governs a population of 27 lakh people and has 85 wards.

“Here, we first laid emphasis on door-to-door collection of waste. At this point, we kept waste segregation out of the picture as this would lead people to see the whole exercise as extremely burdensome and keep them from extending their total cooperation ,” says Ajai Jain, director at Eco Pro Environmental Service, and a consultant to IMC.

Once the two wards started showing results, the other corporators were keen on emulating the same in their wards. In the second phase, the binless concept was extended to 10 new wards, and then slowly, the other wards received the benefits of this initiative.

“Only in the last eight months did we start insisting that residents segregate their waste; and it’s now showing results,” says Jain. All the 600 garbage collection vans come with partitions enabling separate collection of organic and inorganic waste.

Simultaneously, IMC started imposing a fine on those caught littering the roads. The fine ranged from ₹50 to ₹500.

“Though the penalty was small, it helped bring about some discipline, especially among commercial establishments. Whenever a commercial establishment would be penalised, the media would highlight it. It also focussed the spotlight on those who were managing their waste efficiently and this helped creating awareness,” says Jain.

A door-to-door collection fee of ₹60 a month was added to the property tax.

There were incentives encouraging residents to compost waste.

“A discount of 5 % to 10 % was offered on the property tax to those who installed bulk waste converters to compost organic waste. Many hotels grabbed the opportunity,” says Jain.

For those who did not have space to accommodate an organic waste converter, a waste collection fee ranging from ₹2,000 to ₹ 5,000 was charged every month.

Competitions are conducted among institutions, hospitals, restaurants and wards with the objective of identifying groups that tackle the problem of waste in an innovative manner.

“Every month, we have an award function where either the Mayor or the IMC commissioner presents a certificate of recognition to the best ward,” says Jain, adding that IMC had not outsourced the conservancy work to a contract company. The one in-charge of the vehicle that collects the maximum amount of segregated waste is also honoured.

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