A day after the Swachh Bharat rankings of cities on cleanliness showed Punjab in poor light, local government and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu blamed the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government for the state’s dismal showing.
Sidhu said the previous government did nothing for 10 years and kept sitting on its haunches. “They did not do anything on solid waste management. Not a single project was running well. The one that I got was also scuttled. Also, there was lots of bungling and not a single audit was carried out in any municipal body,” the minister told Hindustan Times on Friday.
The state has performed badly in the Swachh Survekshan-2017 in which 434 cities from across the country were ranked on cleanliness and urban sanitation. The 3rd nationwide survey, carried out by the Quality Council of India for the Union ministry of urban development, evaluated the cities on waste collection, solid waste management, construction of toilets, sanitation strategies and behaviour change communication.
Blaming the lack of accountability and transparency in municipal bodies for the mess, Sidhu said he has discussed the matter in detail with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh for quick corrective action. “Our government is just one month old. We will soon come out with a uniform policy for the entire state to improve things on cleanliness and sanitation. When we have fallen flat on our backside, the only way is to look up,” said the local government minister after meeting the CM.
Of the 16 cities covered in the survey, not a single one made it to the top 100. While SAS Nagar was the leader in the state with a rank of 121, seven Punjab cities were among the 100 dirtiest. Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who released the survey findings, had named Punjab, along with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Kerala, as states which needed to substantially step up efforts to improve sanitation standards in urban areas. The state actually slipped this time, as two of its cities, Jalandhar and SAS Nagar, were among the top 100 in 2015. Both showed a big drop in their rankings in the latest survey.