It earned sobriquet ‘Queen of Hills’ for its immaculate beauty. The pristine surroundings of Shimla impressed the British government so much that they made the town as its summer capital.
Over the years, the capital of Himachal Pradesh has lost much of its enviable charm due to haphazard construction and ill-planning.
It was sheer coincidence that when the town celebrated its 150 years of existence last year, the national democratic alliance (NDA) government at the Centre launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
At that time, BJP leaders were seen walking across streets with brooms in their hand. The mission was: Clean Shimla. The Congress, however, refrained from joining the campaign.
One year later, the campaign has failed to bring a visible change in the tourist hill town that is grappling with the problem of garbage disposal.
Morever, the entire town is not covered under the door-to-door garbage collection system that needs to be streamlined.
With population of around two lakh, Shimla is divided into 25 municipal wards. Around 500 sanitation workers have been employed by the municipal corporation to take care of sanitation.
The drains, however, remain perpetually clogged with garbage.
Recently, sanitation workers went on a one-month strike, badly hitting the door-to-door garbage collection scheme. People had no choice but to throw garbage in the open.
Many schemes floated, but ground reality remains same
The SMC has been floating one scheme after another to make Shimla garbage-free, but nothing has changed on ground. Even school children were roped to sensitise people on sanitation but so far it has failed to produce desired results.
Shimla produces 94 meteric tonne per day (MTPD) solid waste. In next 10 years, this figure would be 124 mtpd. There is a need to set up high capacity treatment plant, say experts.
Treatment plants court controversies
The existing plants have been in the eye of storm for one reason or another.
The municipal corporation established its first scientific waste processing and treatment unit with Norway’s assistance in 2001 at Darni-ka-Baghicha in central Shimla. It later created nuisance for the public and tourists.
After intervention of the Himachal high court, the government decided to set up a new treatment and garbage disposal facility outside the municipal limits on public private partnership (PPP) model. The proposal faced acute resistance from nearby villages and matter was finally taken to the National Green Tribunal which gave a clearance for setting up the facility in 2012.