Matter of Pride
Indore CLEANEST CITY
Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, was a city fighting filth as late as 2014. The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) had outsourced the work of garbage collection to private operators who weren’t proving effective; garbage bins overflowed and viral and respiratory diseases were on the rise. Concerned citizens had filed a PIL at the Indore bench of the high court hoping judicial intervention would help. It resulted in action, but only in the form of suspensions of sanitation workers that instead of leading to a cleanup, left the administration with an employees’ agitation on its hands.
That is when the civic agencies—with fresh political and administrative heads at the helm—rose to the challenge.
Packing off the outsourced agency, IMC undertook an inventory of garbage bins. Cyclerickshaws went collecting garbage from house to house. They were replaced by small pickups in 2016 when it was discovered that the cost of transporting garbage by cyclerickshaws from collection points to the waste disposal facility was coming to Rs 2,800 per tonne. With the motorised vehicles, the cost came down to Rs 1,600 per tonne. “At the same time, we decided to remove all garbage bins from the city. We backed our decision with heavy fines if garbage was found at spots where bins were kept,” says Manish Singh, IAS, the then commissioner, IMC, and presently collector, Ujjain. Spot fines as high as Rs 1 lakh were imposed on establishments violating rules.
The commissioner also spoke to the 6,000strong sanitation staff as well as the six karamchari unions, assuring them he would be fair.
What also helped was the city’s active and strident civil society groups. Once Indore was adjudged the cleanest city in 2017 and 2018, citizens began taking pride in their achievement and wanted to continue the good work. “Our people,” says mayor Malini Gaud, “are the biggest strength of the city.” It shows.
PEOPLE’S POWER Mayor Malini Gaud with sanitation workers at the Rajwada