Clean India: New index names and shames cities

18-Aug-2015 # Clean India Source: India Inc

A new tool to measure the real success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India mission on the ground marks a turning point for the country’s urban landscape.

The naming and shaming of some of the country’s popular tourist hot-spots like Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan as also among the lowest ranked in terms of urban cleanliness is designed to inject a competitive edge to the mission.

The Narendra Modi led government’s first Urban Cleanliness Index was released this month based on a survey last year of the country’s 476 Class-I cities across 31 states and Union Territories, each with a population of above 100,000.

Each of the cities were assessed based on:

  • sanitation practices covering a set of parameters
  • the extent of open defecation
  • solid-waste management
  • waste-water treatment
  • drinking-water quality
  • surface-water quality of water bodies
  • mortality due to water-borne diseases

On the whole, 15 of the 27 capital cities surveyed figured among the top 100 performers, while five were ranked below 300.

And, the revelations came as a sobering thought for many of India’s best known cities. The heart of India’s capital, classified as Lutyens’ Delhi, is certainly clean but the rest of the city falls far short on the index. Mumbai itself falls into the unclean category while Navi or New Mumbai across the water is among the cleanest.

There is also a clear regional divide, with some of the southern Indian states performing better than the north.

There are also some cities that have made it to the list of 100 smart cities but are lagging in the Swachh Bharat rankings – Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Jaipur and Ajmer.

A big success story many other cities would be keen to replicate is of the city of Surat in Gujarat, once known for being messy following a plague in 1994. It now ranks 63rd out of 476 cities.

The mission, being implemented at a cost of over $9 billion, was launched in October 2014 and envisages making India open-defecation free by 2019.

Its targets in urban areas include construction of over 10 million household toilets, over 500,000 community and public toilet seats and 100 per cent door-to-door collection of solid waste, its transportation and disposal, also within the same time-frame.