Clean India Mission: Indore is cleanest city, Gonda the dirtiest
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission by sweeping a street at a residential colony in New Delhi (left) and Akshay Kumar take part in cleanliness drive during the Swachh Bharat Mission in Maheshwar near Indore (right)
New Delhi - This year, Prime Minister Modi's home constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, jumped from 418th ranking in 2014 to 32, according to a government-sponsored cleanliness survey.
In October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat Mission - which means Clean India mission - with the usual fanfare.
There were photographs of the prime minister holding a broom - and other ministers lurking in the background - and cleaning streets in a symbolic gesture.
This year, Prime Minister Modi's home constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, jumped from 418th ranking in 2014 to 32, according to a government-sponsored cleanliness survey.
Releasing the results of the survey on Thursday, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said India's cleanest city is Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The runner-up, also from the same state, is Bhopal.
Twenty-five cleanest cities of India have been ranked as part of "Swachh Survekshan 2017" with 3.7 million votes from 73 cities, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said. It ranked Gonda in Uttar Pradesh as the dirtiest city, and Bhusawal in Maharashtra stands second-last in the ranking.
The survey involved 1.8 million respondents across 434 cities. If the results are to be believed, about 82 per cent of the respondents reported improvement in sanitation facilities such as availability of litter bins and door-to-door collection of solid waste.
A similar survey last year had ranked Mysuru in Karnataka as the cleanest city, followed by Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.
"The survey results are very encouraging. They revealed a major improvement in cleanliness in the last one year. The Swacch Bharat buzz is reflecting on the ground," Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said. He seemed positively thrilled with the results of the survey.
The survey took into account cities and towns with a population of over 100,000. West Bengal did not join the exercise as Mamata Banerjee believes the survey findings will be doctored to suit the propaganda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruling at the Centre.
According to the current findings, the coastal port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh is ranked third. Surat in Gujarat has been placed fourth. Mysuru in Karnataka has dropped to the fifth spot in this year's Swachh Survekshan.
"Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are the movers and shakers in the ongoing drive," Naidu said, noting a "remarkable improvement" in the cities of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. Both states are ruled by the BJP.
Uttar Pradesh. Naidu said, was a source of concern. It has some of the dirtiest cities in India, the minister said, but he hoped that the state of affairs would improve because the new BJP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has taken over.
"We are all going there tomorrow to Lucknow for discussions. The state is big, the challenge is big. We have decided to focus on that," Naidu said. "That" probably meant UP. The minister did not elaborate.
The survey results announced on Thursday have been evaluated at length by taking an independent assessment score, data submitted by local bodies about sanitation and cleanliness work undertaken in their areas, in addition to the citizens' feedback about the cleanliness in their cities. "We are determined to make India clean," the minister said.
This survey is one of the steps taken in order to achieve Prime Minister Modi's Clean India mission by 2019. India needs roughly 110.1 million toilets to become open defecation-free and so far the government has successfully constructed more than 30 million toilets. The trouble is it is not just a structure.
A toilet means water, sanitation, drainage. In short, all the basic ingredients of development. The minister, however, did not comment about the requirements of a toilet in detail, and how the idea of bowel movement has great urban developmental implications, or what are the efforts undertaken in the direction of coordination of these departments.Despite RSS leader Tarun Vijay's recent remarks on TV that though South Indians are black - and by implication, inferior - North Indians like him are happy to tolerate them, cities from South and West continued to do well overall as in the last survey.
Incidentally, Modi's home constituency of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, came 65th out of the 73 cities surveyed, despite the best intentions of the government.
Addressing the mayors, municipal chairpersons, municipal commissioners and other officials of participating cities through video conferencing, Naidu said since the first Swachh Survekshan Survey, 115 cities had become open defecation-free (ODF) and another 793 cities and towns were set to become so by March next. Gujarat, Andhra and Kerala have assured the Centre to become ODF by March 2017. But a slum rehabilitation activist in reaction to the Naidu's statement said the minister must travel by a Mumbai local train to see if open defecation is waxing or waning. She said the figures of the survey were just ear-candy.
Prime Minister Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, or Clean India Mission, with the aim to eradicate open defecation, build 1.1 million toilets and clean up public places, among other things.
Modi wants a Clean India by 2019. That primarily means everybody in India gets to use a toilet. As it is, only 40 per cent of Indians have access to toilets, though more than 60 pre cent have mobile phones. That ratio has not perceptibly changed in the last two years. Perhaps it's an indication India knows its priorities in a digital world, said a critic of the survey.
The Swachh Survekshan survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development and was conducted by the Quality Council of India.