Ghaziabad ranked 67 of the 73 cities that were evaluated in the latest ‘Swachhta Survekshan’, a countrywide survey on cleanliness. Ghaziabad was ahead of Dhanbad, Asansol, Patna, Meerut, Raipur, Jamshedpur, Kalyan Dombivilli and Itanagar. Neighbouring Noida was not included in the survey.
The cities were ranked on the basis of solid waste management, construction of individual, community and public toilets, sanitation strategies and behavioural change communication such as campaigns to encourage clean practices.
This is the second such survey carried out as part of the government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to make the country clean and open defecation free by 2019.
Ghaziabad city is still not open defecation free and does not even have a solid waste management disposal site, despite generating 850 metric tonnes of solid waste daily. It has also failed to implement door-to-door collection of daily solid waste. On these accounts, it also lost points in the run-up of the second phase of the ‘Smart City’ programme, aimed at developing 100 cities to make them citizen friendly and sustainable.
“There seems to be no proper system for collection and disposal of solid waste. It is dumped in open fields, vacant plots and roadside areas. Solid waste is also dumped outside apartments and disposal staff turn a blind eye for days. People have to bear stink and filth in an around these areas,” said Alok Kumar from the federation of apartment owners association, Indirapuram.
In 2005-06, Ghaziabad and Bareilly were chosen to have solid waste management plants (SWMPs) as both have airfields and an SWMP could help avoid bird hits. However, these plant are yet to materialise.
In the absence of a waste plant, the corporation is forced to dump the solid waste at an undesignated site near Pratap Vihar. Meanwhile, housing expansion continues in areas near National Highway 24 and 58. More housing will lead to an increase in the solid waste generated.
“The area along the highways and the river zone has borne the brunt of unauthorised dumping of solid waste. We had to move National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the activities,” said Vikrant Sharma, a resident of Raj Nagar Extension.
Being free of open defecation is another of the survey’s parameters on which the city fares poorly. To deal with that, the municipal corporation has proposed to construct nearly 2,500 toilets.
“The proposal for these toilets is in the process. We have also floated tenders for purchase of equipment for solid waste lifting and disposal. The equipment will arrive by the next financial year,” said Dr RK Yadav, the corporation’s city health officer.
“We have also signed an agreement for door-to-door collection of waste in Vasundhara zone and work on it will start soon,” he said.
On the solid waste plant, Yadav said, “The SWMP site is caught up in litigation. As an alternative, we have proposed a composting plant with a capacity of 300 metric tonnes at Pratap Vihar. This will provide some relief when it is completed in March.”