After several stages of assessment and auditing with the assistance of a third party, the results of the world’s largest sanitation survey – the Swachh Survekshan 2020 are out. India’s Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) recently released the results. The survey was able to assess 4242 urban local bodies (ULBs) against 4237 ULBs last year, including the assessment for 62 cantonment boards. However, this year the results were quite shocking. Let’s see how Swachh is our Bharat?
WHAT IS THE SWACHH SURVEKSHAN SURVEY? | HOW SWACHH IS OUR BHARAT?
The survey, which is a matriculation exam of cleanliness, was of 6000 marks this year, and spread across four major categories each comprising 1500 marks – service level progress, direct observation, citizen feedback, and certification. Moreover, certification, as per the MoHUA guidelines, included certifying a ULB open defecation free (500 marks) and garbage-free city (1000 marks).
Further, the service level progress consists of six categories:
- Collection and Transportation
- Processing and Disposal
- Sustainable Sanitation
- IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) & Behaviour change
- Capacity Building
- Innovation and Best Practices
However, the survey lacks a scientific approach. For instance, the mere allocation of funds to enhance toilet infrastructure is not indicative of the fact that the country will achieve the status of being Open Defecation Free (ODF). Gender has been impacting the sanitation and hygiene-infrastructure since a very long time. Also, gender roles have determined the shape and course of many changes throughout the country. Notably, the survey also leaves these aspects of paramount importance.
In addition, the survey has not looked into the question of menstrual waste management, which forms the core of WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) practices and ensures that the topic of menstruation remains a taboo.
Although there has been a huge emphasis on the building of public and community toilets, which have been constructed as per the guidelines given out by Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO), there was no mention of dealing with sanitary napkins, adult and baby diapers, condoms, tampons, bandages, and others. Contamination of hygiene products takes place most importantly, because of blood, urine, and feces and this becomes even more important in a post-pandemic world.
CLEANEST AND DIRTIEST STATES
After assessing 27 states, Chhattisgarh was on the 1st rank and Uttar Pradesh on the 7th.
According to the survey, the northeastern state of Meghalaya is the second dirtiest state in India. Ironically, the state boasts Asia’s cleanest village – Mawlynnong, an epitome of sustainable tourism. Kerala was at the 27th position, making it the dirtiest state.
CLEANEST AND DIRTIEST CITIES
Being on the top of the leader board since 2017, Indore became the cleanest city in India for the fourth time in a row. Ahmedabad was the cleanest in the above 40 lakh category. Moreover, Varanasi was awarded the ‘cleanest Ganga town’. Last year, Mysore was at the first rank in the cleanest city in the country tally. This year, the city remained at the top of the 3-10 lakh category.
Patna was the dirtiest city in the large city (more than 10 lakh people) category, while Gaya was ranked the lowest in the small city (less than 10 lakh) tally. The Northeast was shown in a bad light in the survey. Shillong (Meghalaya), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), and Dimapur (Nagaland) – were ranked as three of the dirtiest in the below 10 lakh category.
In addition, West Bengal, one of the many large states in India in terms of the number of parliamentarians, is a habitual non-participant in this survey.
CLEANEST AND DIRTIEST MNCs
New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has been declared as the cleanest state/UT despite the fact that Delhi is infamous for its landfills and air pollution.
THE WEAK LINK | HOW SWACHH IS OUR BHARAT?
In short, for a large country like India, “one size fits all solutions” will never work. They have to be local with an impetus towards technological intervention to ensure sustainability. The intent of this survey is extremely ambitious and people-centric, however, it leaves behind a lot of mess, not only on the ground but also at a policy level.
Since, the Paris Agreement, there has been a lot of information dissemination around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at global and national levels.
Subsequently, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the management of medical waste, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) becomes a matter of concern.
The ranking list can be checked at the official website of the Swachh Survekshan 2020.