From being ranked149th in the Swachh Sarvekshan Survey of 2014 to having topped the national civic ranking as the cleanest city in India for the last four consecutive years, Indore has indeed come a long way. And nowAdding yet another feather to its cap, it is the only Indian city to make the cut for the International Clean Air Catalyst Programme launched by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). This project is being carried out along with a global consortium of organisations under the World Resources Institute(WRI) and Environmental Defence Fund (EDF).
Plans And Details Of The Programme
This initiative aims at accelerating clean air solutions in low and middle-income countries. In partnership with the USAID, WRI and EDF, Indore has brought its City Clean Catalyst Programme to life. Under this collaboration, Indore's Municipal Corporation and Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board will operate the project for clean and pure air for five years in the city.
All details regarding the design and operation of the programme were discussed in a meeting with the Clean Air Catalyst team. In the future phases of the project, health, climate change, and gender issues will also be highlighted and managed. In the first phase of the programme, monitoring equipment of ₹1.2 crore will be established for source awareness study. For further interventions, many other international organisations will participate in the upcoming phases.
A Lesson In Waste Segregation From Indore
Indore was initially known as a dumping ground. However, the city's turnaround story is noteworthy. Through the collective of citizens, government officials and public representatives, the once dirty city has been remolded and transformed into one of the cleanest cities in the country. Many states and union territories, along with other countries, have made efforts to replicate Indore's model of cleanliness programs.
Even before the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Indian Grameen Services (IGS) mandated the testing of various developmental projects and initiatives. Hence, to augment the income of ragpickers, the city inaugurated its plastic recycling unit. IGS was required to handle the solid waste management systems of various new townships emerging in the city. Residents were instructed to segregate wet and dry waste in their respective homes to make recycling trash easier. These townships even offered a small fee for the same. At the end of its first five-year cycle, authorities set up a new company called Basix Municipal Waste Ventures (BMWV) to work with other small municipal corporations of various districts.
While BMWV worked towards educating the public on segregating their dry and wet waste, they also ensured the door-to-door waste collection policy. While they focused on the general public, they also assured that the safai karamchari of different areas were doing their job up to the mark. Between the year 2012-2014, the model mentioned above turned out to be successful in 10 urban townships and 28 municipal corporations across the city. During this time, the town was excruciatingly sinking in a pool of garbage. Citizens were frustrated with complaints going unheard, and some even took to the streets to protest against mismanagement of waste disposal.
'Bin-Free, Dust-Free And Litter-Free'
While implementing pilot programmes in various municipalities, authorities replaced cycle rickshaws with Tata Ace vehicles for door-to-door garbage collection. BMWV was chosen as the implementation partner for carrying out the drill. The garbage vehicles were customised according to the requirements and convenience of waste collectors. For example, they adjusted the truck's height to make it easier to toss over garbage, separate compartments were arranged for segregating wet and dry waste, etc. Vehicles with larger capacity and hydraulics were designed to meet the purpose. Today, the same city has invested in and acquired 400- GPS linked vehicles to enable a comfortable door-to-door collection.
Safai karamcharis of Indore lacked basic work ethics and attendance. Only 30-40 per cent of their workforce showed up for work every day. To counter this issue, municipal corporations took stringent measures by terminating and suspending the licence of those unwilling to cooperate. Duly after authorities took these strict steps, workers were willing to band together and fight the crisis. More than 90 per cent attendance was recorded daily with the help of monitoring and mutual respect for everyone.
While the public effectively cooperated with officials, efforts were made to make every district Open Defecation Free. Public toilets were installed across the city in plenty to avoid urination on the streets. A team from Basix identified 128 OD spots, did a survey of all the households, and constructed over 10,000 public toilets. While most of the credit goes to the officials and stakeholders, BMWV outshined all other private companies who previously took up the responsibility of waste management. In an interview with Business Today, Vijay Mahajan, the Chairman of BMWV, said, "We do not set up processing plants. We do not invest any capital. Our role is to provide technical assistance, supervision, documentation and public awareness. As we advance, the plan is to turn the city into a training centre in the arena of waste management."
Efforts To Retain Swachh Bharat Award
To continue being the best city in the arena of cleanliness and beautification for the fifth time in a row, Indore has been working day in and day out. The municipal corporations and officials have taken up several beautification tasks and projects. An 'Eco Mart' has been set up where all the recycled plastic items are kept. To ensure that civilians adhere to protocols by not throwing garbage from moving vehicles, the civic body has set up its stall at Palacia intersection with car dustbins, cloth bags, eco-friendly straws and many more such initiatives to improve Indore. Even the drains of the city are covered with nets and plants to make it look nicer. Colourful and vibrant lights have been installed on the streets to beautify the city further. The city focuses on efficient maintenance and embellishment to secure the first position for the fifth time in a row.