Swachh Survekshan ends GMC hibernation
Recently, Mayor MrigenSarania and other GMC authorities were seen inviting the media and visiting many localities of the city for the so-called cleanliness drives under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Also, very recently it has surfaced that the city authorities are gearing up for the SwachhSurvekshan under which Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) conducts a “cleanliness contest” which ranks cities based on their progress under the mission. Talking about the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the question arises: is it really an honest initiative or just a publicity stunt by the government that impels city authorities to clean certain spots only on Swachh Bharat Divas or during other contests organised by the MoUD and hogging footage on local media? What happened in 2016 if Swachh Bharat was serious business at all? How much money did the central government provide to Kamrup Metro under the mission? What is the Survekshan contest and does Guwahati have any chance of scoring high? G Plus checks out the realities.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?
We tried to follow the standing claims of GMC officials that given any year, a lot of work always gets done.
INDIVIDUAL HOUSEHOLD TOILETS
Throughout 2016 the GMC officials kept saying that a total of 7,135 applications from various wards have been received by GMC for setting up individual toilets. The application forms have been verified and approved by the member secretaries and chairmen of respective ward committees. So far, a total of 6,667 beneficiaries have been uploaded out of which 3,016 beneficiaries have been verified online. According to the scheme Rs 4,000 will be provided in two instalments as subsidy to construct toilets. Now, according to sources in GMC, only Rs 20 lakhs has been received from the centre for the scheme and therefore the money has not yet been distributed to the applicants. This excuse cropped up at the beginning of the year and continues to exist. So practically, not a single individual household toilet has been installed.
FUNCTIONAL PUBLIC TOILETS
Again throughout the year, GMC claimed that in response to the present scenario of sanitation and hygiene in Guwahati, critical locations were identified around the city to erect toilets for public convenience. The officials said that the sites are at prime locations where there is acute necessity of toilets. All the toilets have been designed so as to accommodate proper sanitary facilities especially for women and the differently-abled. In reality the following are the only locations where there are functional public toilets in the city executed by GMC in PPP mode:
So, there were only three public toilets constructed in 2016; the Fancy Bazar toilet was constructed the previous year. Toilets are also proposed at the following locations:
Underneath Bhangagarh flyover
DC office premises
Dreams remain dreams; when these will be completely constructed remains vague even as authorities continue to claim that a lot of work has been done.
On 17th May 2015, GMC had installed two blocks of e-toilets, one each for ladies and gents near the foot bridge of MaligaonChariali. According to GMC officials, it was the first of its kind in the entire north-eastern region of India. Similarly due to space constraints faced in Guwahati, portable toilets were proposed to be installed in various parts of the city both for men and women. Following are the locations where portable toilets were claimed to be installed:
Near SB Beorah College
Underneath Six Mile Flyover
Near Dispur College
Near Zoo Tiniali
Anil Nagar near Gayatri Sweets
Panbazar, near water works office
Under Chandmari flyover
A source in GMC said that in 2016, 10 biodegradable toilets and 18 portable toilets were installed which have been placed in all these locations and are, from time to time, carted to spots where big events take place. During events some toilets are indeed seen but at the locations the same toilets are hardly seen.
Moreover, GMC officials always brag about house-to-house garbage collection.
GMC has always claimed that NGOs have been engaged in all 31 wards for carrying out the task of house-to-house garbage collection. The NGOs have a total manpower of 450 workers who operate a total of 480 tricycles and 64 auto trippers across the city. Secondary collection and transportation is done by GMC. The staff-strength engaged for the purpose is:
PWD divisions – 6
Zonal Engineers – 15
Junior technical officers – 12
Supervisors – 81
Hand carter – 422
Road sweeper -339
The bins and vehicles engaged for the secondary collection and transportation are:
Garbage compactors – 22
Collection bins – 200
Dumpers – 26 (of various capacities)
Excavators cum loaders – 12
Mini loader -6
Push carts – 200
But does the garbage collection happen? Many people said that the door-to-door collection is not up to the mark as the NGOs do not visit the city households on a daily basis. Meanwhile, some NGOs said that when the project started, GMC provided some auto trippers and tricycles, but till date no upkeep has been provided to the vehicles and the instruments. GMC officials said that there are some financial crises which the body faces every now and then and which have to be solved.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is expected to cost over Rs 620 billion. The central government provides an incentive of Rs 12,000 for each toilet constructed by a BPL family. Total fund mobilised under Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) as on 31st January 2016 stood at Rs 3.69 billion. An amount of Rs 90 billion was allocated for the mission in the 2016 union budget of India. The government and the World Bank signed a US$1.5 billion loan agreement on 30th March 2016 for the Swachh Bharat Mission to support India’s universal sanitation initiative. World Bank will also provide a parallel $25 million technical assistance to build the capacity of select states in implementing community-led behavioural change programmes targeting social norms to help ensure widespread usage of toilets by rural households. But surprisingly GMC received only Rs 20 lakhs in the last two years from centre for the abhiyan. A highly placed source in GMC said that all the campaigns have been carried out by the urban body and only Rs 20 lakhs was received which is still lying unused as the money is for providing subsidy for individual toilets and scrutiny in that regard is still going on. So, Modi’sSwachh Bharat Abhiyan has not provided enough funds to Guwahati till now. Now the city authorities like GMC and district administration have to pull up their socks to contest with other 500 cities in SwachhSurvekshan contest.
SWACHH SURVEKSHAN CONTEST
In a bid to scale up the coverage of this ranking exercise, the Swachh Survekshan-2017 which is to be conducted in January 2017 was launched across the country by the central government. The contest will rank 500 cities/towns having population of 1 lakh and above. Total marks for the contest is 2000 in which 30% will be decided on the basis of citizen feedback, 25% on direct observation and 45% on municipal documentation.
The city authorities, in the coming days, are expected to publicise the contest and ask people to participate by downloading the Swachh Bharat app and send feedbacks. Also, many cleanliness drives are being conducted and the GMC is documenting all the drives. According to sources, the authorities are planning advertisement campaigns and promotions so that when the MoUD researches, positive responses should be provided by the citizens. The entire strategy is to change the people’s mindset within the month of January itself when the MoUD will seek feedback and assess the city. The truth remains that if there was no contest all these initiatives would not have been taken. The entire Swachh Bharat mission has turned out to be a publicity stunt and not a whole-hearted initiative to make the city actually swachh.
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