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Chandigarh MC spent only 13% budget under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Reality check: Sanitation gone from bad to worse; nodal officer claims infrastructure spic and span, so no need of money

punjab Updated: Oct 04, 2017 11:55 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh MC,Swachh Bharat,Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Litter strewn on the ground next to two garbage dumps in Sector 25. (Sikander Singh/HT)

While the sanitation condition in the city has gone from bad to worse, the UT administration has spent only 13% of the budget allocated under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan so far.

It has been three years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched this flagship programme on Gandhi Jayanti. The Union government allocated Rs 28 crore — to be spent over five years — to the UT.

But the administration has been able to spend only Rs 3.75 crore on various components under the programme, including solid waste management, maintenance of toilets and capacity building. This, despite public toilets being in a bad shape and there being a shortage of sanitation workers in the city.

In fact, the City Beautiful slipped in the annual Swachh Survekshan Survey from second position in 2016 to the eleventh this year. However, the nodal officer claims the city has a “well-established” infrastructure and doesn’t need the money.

“Since our infrastructure pertaining to sanitation is well established, we do not need much money,” said Dr Parminder Bhatti, MC medical officer, health, who is the nodal officer for implementing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “But as we have two more years left, we have planned some more activities.”

Failed to segregate waste

The civic body on June 5 started distributing colour-coded dustbins — green for disposing of wet waste and blue for dry waste — to residents. Under this waste segregation initiative, 2.3 lakh dustbins were to be distributed, but so far only 1.7 lakh have been distributed.

Even where people are segregating the waste, those coming to collect it are dumping it in the same cart. Meanwhile, many residents have put the bins to other uses, including as a bucket.

Meanwhile, the MC has been able to open only 35 Sehaj Safai Kendras in the city to streamline the waste disposal. In 2002, it was proposed to open 132 such centres.

Shortage of sanitation workers

Residents and councillors have been regularly complaining about the poor sanitation condition. In the recent House meeting, Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla cornered the civic body on the issue.

Earlier, during a House meet in May this year, even city MP Kirron Kher questioned the failure of a private firm that was being paid ₹4.5 crore a month to keep the city clean.

“The sanitation condition has gone from bad to worse,” said Hitesh Puri, vice-chairman of Federation of Sectors Welfare Association of Chandigarh (FOSWAC). “The officers believe in just meetings and paper work, but are not aware of the ground reality. The city does not have proper sanitation infrastructure.” In fact, the city is short of around 1,300 sanitation workers. Out of the total 1,000 regular employees, only 300 are working and the rest do not even come for their duty, said sources. Even as there 1,200 sweepers working on contract basis, around 250 are deployed in the houses of administrative officers.

“We are already in the process of recruiting sweepers,” said Dr Bhatti.

Poor sanitation near public toilets. ( Sikander Singh/HT )

Public toilets in bad shape

Even as the MC spent Rs 1.72 crore of the total Rs 3.75 crore on renovating toilets, the situation remains the same. A visit to public toilets in various markets and on the main roads revealed that majority of them had leaky or dry faucets, poor or no water supply and overflowing pots.

The MC has given the contract for maintaining the toilets to a Gurgaon firm. The works were allotted without inviting tenders. The civic body is paying the firm around Rs 20,000 per month per toilet. In all, there are 121 public toilets.

Even the 418 relocatable toilets provided at various colonies and villages in September last year are in a pathetic condition. Doors of most of the toilets are broken, sewage is overflowing and there is no water and streetlights in the area. In fact, people are forced to defecate in the open.

First Published: Oct 04, 2017 11:52 IST