In the last five months, Karnal, which is being developed as a smart city, has undergone a sea change in its sanitation management. Overflowing garbage bins and littered streets are almost things of the past.
Barring few spots in the Mughal Canal area, one can hardly come across waste on the roadside. Authorities said the locality will soon be equipped with ample number of waste bins.
Joint efforts made by the Karnal municipal corporation (KMC) and the district administration have motivated residents to be apart of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan at the grass-roots level.
Authorities said streamlining of the existing waste management infrastructure and manpower boost was the game changer. “As we ensured placing of waste bins and lifting of garbage on time, residents and various social and trade organisations turned proactive and joined the initiative,” says mayor Renu Bala Gupta. However, she says the beginning was tough. “When Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was flagged off in Karnal on November 1, ensuring cleanliness in the chief minister’s city was a major challenge.
“We began with regular sensitisation programmes for officials, residents and students. But members of the local community got actively involved and ensured the success of programme,” says the mayor.
In May this year, the KMC started information, education and communication (IEC) programme to raise awareness on sanitation. The initiative was aimed at meeting environment-friendly standards prescribed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that was ultimately aimed at the smart city planning.
KMC commissioner Sumedha Kataria said: “We first selected few residential areas in ward no 2 to take up segregation of waste at source on a trial basis. Encouraged with the prompt response, we gradually extended the service to nine more wards. As part of the smart city planning, focus will be on adopting sustainable practices of waste management.”
Kataria said councillors were given leadership of their respective wards to make the city clean.
“In the second stage in August, we kick-started Bhagidari scheme wherein the functioning of the outsourced task is monitored through GPS-equipped garbage collection vehicles. Also, we have installed CCTVs at solid waste management plant to assess taking the waste at the end point for safe disposal. Monthly payment to the contractor is made only after the councillor concerned gives in writing that he is satisfied with the operations,” said the commissioner.
Kataria said soon a joint bank account would be opened in the name of the municipal commissioner and the councillor of the given ward. ‘Swachhta doots’ (messengers of cleanliness) would collect `30 per household and shop in the respective areas to be paid to the outsourced agency for waste collection.
The KMC would deposit the equal amount of money collected from each ward for other minor development activities in their wards.
Electronic or e-toilets are functional at mini secretariat, Atal Park and near GPO. Deputy commissioner J Ganesan said more such smart toilets would be made available at the most visited spots of the city.
Naresh Kumar Barana, member of a Karnal-based social organisation, said: “The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was initiated by PM Narendra Modi last year has resulted in a significant change in Karnal.”
Rice exporter and activist Vijay Setia said motivated by the cleanliness drive’s impact, even the industrialists were paying extra attention to maintaining cleanliness.
Entrepreneur Binny Chaudhary said that the authorities should focus more on segregating waste collection to prevent rag-pickers from sifting through the garbage.
Concerted efforts paid off for us: Mayor
What steps have been taken to improve sanitation since the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan last year?
Intensive awareness programmes at schools, colonies and government offices were held. Community leaders, social and religious bodies were engaged in spreading the cleanliness message of cleanliness and its impact is visible today
What challenges did you face in implementing the campaign?
I would not hesitate to admit that the MC lacked on several fronts when it came to garbage management. Provisions of waste collection and its lifting were not up to the mark initially. But as we have improved ourselves, other stakeholders are pitching in to make Karnal a clean city.
How will you boost the sanitation campaign further in the future?
As we have entered the smart city planning phase, experts will be asked to find sustainable modern methods to handle waste generated from household, factories, slaughterhouses and medical institutions.