Over 2 weeks after swacchta survey showed Chandigarh slip to 20th spot: No improvement on ground despite HC rap

Hina Rohtaki
Be it segregation at the household level or the condition of public toilets, dumping ground or Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, it is status quo in Chandigarh. (File/Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

Over two weeks have passed since Chandigarh slipped from the third rank to twentieth in the Swacchta Survekshan, but the city's sanitation situation remains unchanged. This is despite a rap by Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had expressed concern over City Beautiful drastic fall in the ranking.

Be it segregation at the household level or the condition of public toilets, dumping ground or Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, it is status quo in Chandigarh.
While the overall rank of Chandigarh in the Swacch survekshan 2019 was 20th, the city was way behind at 539th slot in the ODF status, which primarily involves the condition of public toilets.

On March 18, a pision bench of the High Court, during a hearing of a case related to the Sukhna Lake, had observed that it's evident that the administration and corporation have failed to keep City Beautiful clean. The court had said that Chandigarh is a small city and it's a matter of concern that it slipped to 20th rank within a year.

Door-to-door segregation

In December's general House meeting, it was finally decided that an MoU will be signed with independent waste collectors to carry out door-to-door segregation. But officials say the Municipal Corporation (MC) made several attempts to call representatives of waste collectors to sign the MoU but they are not responding.

"The tentative deadline to execute this MoU was March 31, we have called them several times for a meeting, they aren't responding at all. This is a critical area because unless there is proper collection and segregation, we will again slip. Anyway we will put forth our progress report before the House," said MC Commissioner KK Yadav.
The city has already missed several deadlines on waste segregation and its plans to take over this function had come a cropper when the private waste collectors went on strike last year. Incidentally, it was spearheaded by Rajesh Kalia, the present mayor.

Solid waste management bylaws

Last year, the MC had started working on bringing its solid waste management bylaws, mandated by the SWM Rules, 2016, following a rap by the Supreme Court. On August 31, 2018, the apex court had imposed a fine of Rs 3 lakh on the UT administration besides stopping all construction activities till the framing of the Solid Waste Management Policy. It was then that the administration had in a hurry cleared the bylaws, which stipulate various fines for littering and mismanagement of waste. Though the bylaws were notified this Monday, there is no clarity on how these will be implemented on the ground.

Bylaws moot fine

Vinod Vashisht, convener of the City Forum of Residents Welfare Organizations (CFORWO), said he has on many occasions asked the Municipal Corporation to appoint citizens as marshals to check littering.

"I met the special Commissioner a few months back as well to tell him that the best way forward is to appoint citizens as marshals to check littering. Let the residents' welfare associations be given this charge," Vashisht said. He added that the MC can appoint litter marshals on the lines of traffic marshals appointed by traffic police.

MC Commissioner Yadav said sanitary inspectors and other officials of the sanitation wing will be deployed to check littering next week. On marshals, he said, "We can't give challaning powers to RWAs or other citizens. They can, however, post pictures or videos, which they can do even now on the Swacchta app."

Public toilets

Chandigarh failed miserably in the area of public toilets where it could not achieve the ODF plus ranking. There are 250-odd public toilets in the city, majority of them in a filthy condition. However, MC says that a committee has been constituted which will come up with its recommendations on the RFP to be floated for maintenance of these toilets. This will be done only after the elections as the code of conduct is in place.

Twin bin hoppers by April 15

MC Commissioner K K Yadav said 45 twin bin hoppers, which will carry out garbage collection from 40,000 unattended households of the city, will arrive by April 15. "This will help us enforce segregation at the household level. Also, we will be getting 55 more such vehicles for garbage collection in 13 new villages, which have come under MC jurisdiction, by May 15," he added.

The MC will outsource manpower for these vehciles to an agency. Yadav said the process to set up three transfer stations and 100 vehicles for commercial areas is also under process.