Punjab should take tips from Andhra for moving up the ‘Swachhta’ ladder

Published on Sep 14, 2022 01:31 AM IST

Even as cities in Punjab are struggling to climb the rankings in Swachh Sarvekshan, its partner state under ‘Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat’ Andhra Pradesh has set an example with 3 of its cities featuring in top 10 cleanest cities

An MC garbage collector scanning Radio Frequency Identification tag system installed at a household in Visakhapatnam. The method enables the MC to record data of garbage collection in all households for better waste management. During a recent visit of Punjab-based journalists to Andhra Pradesh organised by the Press Information Bureau, the landmarks achieved by the cities were shown through a video presentation. Cities in Punjab are struggling to climb the rankings in Swachh Sarvekshan. (HT Photo)
An MC garbage collector scanning Radio Frequency Identification tag system installed at a household in Visakhapatnam. The method enables the MC to record data of garbage collection in all households for better waste management. During a recent visit of Punjab-based journalists to Andhra Pradesh organised by the Press Information Bureau, the landmarks achieved by the cities were shown through a video presentation. Cities in Punjab are struggling to climb the rankings in Swachh Sarvekshan. (HT Photo)
ByAneesha Sareen Kumar, Visakhapatnam/vijaywada

Even as cities in Punjab are struggling to climb the rankings in Swachh Sarvekshan – an annual survey of hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation across India- its partner state under ‘Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat’ Andhra Pradesh has set an example with three of its cities featuring in top 10 cleanest cities in the country in the last year’s nationwide survey under different categories.

While Vijaywada was adjudged the third cleanest city in the country in the category of a population of over 10 lakh, Visakhapatnam ranked ninth cleanest in the country for the second time in a row in the same category and Tirupati ranked third in the category of one to 10 lakh population. In complete contrast, only three cities in Punjab, Bathinda, Patiala and Ferozepur, could feature in the top 100 cleanest in the category of one to 10 lakh population. The closest to rank high on cleanliness being Bathinda at a dismal all-India rank of 79. Patiala and Ferozepur had ranked 86 and 96, respectively. Moreover, in over 10 lakh population categories, Amritsar ranked 34 while Ludhiana ranked 39 in the nationwide survey.

A strong political will, focused approach and bringing about an attitudinal change in the people to shun plastic and make the city garbage-free is what makes Andhra Pradesh different from Punjab when it comes to bringing about a ‘change’.

During a recent visit of Punjab-based journalists to Andhra Pradesh organised by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the landmarks achieved by the cities were shown through a video presentation with Visakhapatnam municipal commissioner G Laxmishah repeatedly asserting how they brought about the change gradually by changing public attitude. “We do not impose fines or any stringent measures. We focus on changing the attitude of people and providing them with alternatives (to plastic),” he said.

In these cities ranking high on cleanliness, segregation at source is the main mantra for real implementation of solid waste management. While cities in Punjab are still struggling to get waste segregated at source, there is 100 percent segregation of wet, dry and hazardous waste at all household and commercial establishments in Visakhapatnam.

Making the best use of technology, to ensure door-to-door collection, 604 vehicles have been provided for every 1,000 to 1,200 households in all the 98 wards. With the use of Radio Frequency Identification System (RFIDs), the MC has been effectively tagging all households where garbage has been collected on a daily basis that helps them to maintain data of garbage collection.

There is also 100 percent maintenance of twin bins at every commercial establishment for segregated collection of waste with mapped vehicles.

With its enormous force of 3.3 lakh self-help group members, 139 bulk waste generators, including resident welfare associations, 53,065 households have successfully been implementing on-site waste composting of wet waste at their premises with community participation.

To ensure a bin-free, litter-free and garbage-free city with a strategic approach, bins have been removed in all the residential areas of 98 wards and are provided in commercial areas only.

Moreover, to improve visual cleanliness, twin bins have been provided at every 50-metre distance.

To ensure a plastic-free environment, innovative ideas to provide alternatives have been effectively put into place like a cloth bag challenge which was also applauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for its implementation at the ground level.

The city has also ranked second in citizen feedback with the GVMC responding to public grievances regarding sanitation round the clock.

Setting another example from which Punjab can certainly benefit, one-third of treated wastewater in Visakhapatnam is being reutilised by industry. The city has also achieved a distinction in putting an end to manual scavenging by installing machines for the purpose. “We call manholes ‘mission holes’. They are not meant for human beings at all. It’s against human rights,” added Laxmishah.

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