Mat­ter of Pride


India Today - - SAFAI GIRI -

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.

—Rahul Noronha

PEO­PLE’S POWER Mayor Malini Gaud with san­i­ta­tion work­ers at the Ra­jwada

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