At odds with the Centre, the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has pulled out of the ‘Swachhata Survekshan’, a survey that ranks cities on the basis of cleanliness.
The survey conducted by the Union urban development (UD), as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), has 500 cities across India in its list. But the 60 cities from West Bengal did not participate in the survey.
This is the second time the Narendra Modi government has been snubbed by the Mamata government. West Bengal had earlier pulled out of the NDA government’s flagship programme, ‘Smart Cities’.
The survey, whose results will be announced this month, ranks cities on cleanliness and different aspects of urban sanitation.
UD ministry officials confirmed that none of the cities from West Bengal are part of the survey.
Onkar Singh Meena, West Bengal’s urban development secretary told HT that Banerjee had launched Mission Nirmal Bangla to make the state open defecation free (ODF), and it was running successfully.
“In urban areas, so far 55 cities in 125 municipalities have achieved ODF status. We plan to make all cities in the state ODF by March 2018. Since we are taking up all districts one by one, it becomes irrelevant to have a comparable survey,” he said.
In last year’s survey, Asansol in West Bengal, was ranked the second dirtiest city in India after Dhanbad in Jharkhand.
This is the second such Union urban development ministry piloted initiative that the state has put the brakes on. Last year, West Bengal had pulled out of New Town Kolkata, one of the cities picked from the state, to be made “smart” under the ‘Smart Cities’ programme.
The Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress government had cited its inability to fork out its share of Rs 100 crore every year till 2019 in this regard.
It has also expressed reservation over imposing fees for basic services like water to generate funds to finance the programme.
Initially, the state government had nominated four cities, capital Kolkata, Bidhan Nagar, New City and Haldea, under the scheme.
Banerjee had openly criticised the Centre’s ‘Smart Cities’ project and said it will promote “inequitable development.”
The West Bengal government has instead proposed to develop ten green cities including Rajarhat in the next five years that will be eco-friendly as well as smart instead of just one city based on parameters fixed by the Centre.