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Swachh Survekshan: Ranked 4th three years ago, Batala now dirtiest town in Punjab

Batala, 32km from Gurdaspur, was once known as the “Iron Bird of Asia” for its foundry industry.

punjab Updated: Jun 26, 2018 11:37 IST
Vishal Sally
Vishal Sally
Hindustan Times, Batala
Swachh Survekshan,Batala Swachh Survekshan,Batala
The civic body pays Rs 25 lakh per month to the contractor, yet garbage is not lifted.(HT Photo)

From 186th rank in 2015 to 438th in 2018 in the county, Batala, the rusted industrial town of Punjab, has become the worst-performing civic body in the state in the recent Swachh Survekshan rankings recently released by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs.

In 2015, Batala municipal council got the 4th rank in the state for sanitation conditions. It slipped to 5th rank in 2016, 14th in 2017 and 17th this year, the worst in the state, and this too when the municipal council is spending more than ₹55 lakh and sewerage board ₹7 lakh per month to maintain sanitary conditions in the town.

Batala, 32km from Gurdaspur, was once known as the “Iron Bird of Asia” for its foundry industry. The town also holds significance for Sikhs as marriage of Guru Nanak was solemnised here in 1485.

Where Batala fared poorly
  • Garbage collection and transportation
  • Processing and disposal
  • Sanitation
  • Behaviour change
  • Capacity building
  • Innovation and best practice

Giving reasons for insanitary conditions in the town, sewerage board junior engineer Balkaranjit Singh said: “We are facing shortage of machinery and manpower. We have only 14 permanent employees and 19 contractual workers. As many new colonies have been added to the sewerage system, we need at least two dozen more employees. Besides, most of the machinery required to clean the sewage is lying defunct due to lack of funds.”

Blaming the municipal council for the mess, sewerage board sub-divisional officer Harpreet Singh Dhillon said the civic authorities have given sewerage connections to illegal colonies, which have mushroomed over the years, without approval, leading to sewer blockages and overflows.

Thought the municipal council has 128 permanent sweepers, the contract of cleaning roads and lifting garbage has been given to a private contractor who has engaged 243 employees. The council pays ₹25 lakh per month to the contractor, but even then the town’s performance in Swachh Survekshan has been dismal.

Admitting laxity, newly appointed executive officer of the municipal council Bhupinder Singh said not only the sanitation wing but the entire administration of the council was responsible for the poor performance. There are 12 components in Swachh Survekshan rankings. This steep fall in the rank means that the council failed on all 12 parameters. “I called a special meeting and issued strict instructions to the staff ensure proper sanitation in the town. Sanitary inspectors had been asked to check every locality twice a day,” he said.

An MC official, who didn’t want to be named, said despite complaints from residents and sanitary inspectors, the council has not changed the contractor for the past two years. Three posts of sanitary inspectors are also lying vacant. Moreover, in the absence of a dumping ground, garbage is disposed of in vacant areas of the town.

Local MLA Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal alleged that the council was playing with the lives of the residents. “Heaps of garbage can be seen in every nook and corner of the town, and the MC authorities are not bothered,” he said.

First Published: Jun 26, 2018 09:40 IST