Changing Scenarios: How Indore became the cleanest city of India for the fourth consecutive year
Indore- a city in Madhya Pradesh bagged ‘cleanest city’ title for the fourth time in a row. It all started when ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched in 2014 with the aim of eliminating open defecation and improve solid waste management (SWM) in urban and rural areas in India. The objectives of the mission also include eradication of manual scavenging and bringing about a behavior change regarding sanitation practices, and augmentation of capacity at the local level. An annual survey called ‘Swachh Survekshan’ has been conducted on cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and town across India, as a part of Clean India Drive. First survey was undertaken in 2016 which covered 73 cities; by 2020 this number grew to 4242 cities in 4 categories, carried out by Quality council of India. It is said to be the largest cleanliness survey in the world.
While Indore scored first among metropolitan cities (with more than one million inhabitants), Patna in Bihar ranked the lowest at 47. The prime reason of Indore‘s win is the combined effort of its residents, public representative and government official with hard work, co-operation, and a system of rewards and punishments. Let’s just dig more and find out the inspiring journey of Indore’s cleanliness that is followed by many other cities in India and across globe as well.
When Indore began working towards this drive in 2016, there were several obstacles to face. Municipal waste management systems and procedures have not been in place and the infrastructure has been inadequate. There were no material recovery systems, distribution stations and processing units in operation. Composting services have become non-operational.
The unorganized trench had more than 13 tons of legacy waste, which caused methane-induced fires, bad smell, and disease-causing insects. Just about 5% of the city witnessed door-to - door waste collection, with no source segregation. Disorganized collection, transport and dumping of fecal sludge were also widespread.
The most important challenge was to change the attitude of the residents of Indore towards segregation of waste at home — such that, to keep separate containers for dry, wet and hazardous waste (such as sanitary napkins, diapers, etc.). They have had to build an awareness of not littering in public spaces. Municipal and sanitation workers were not motivated and organized to execute at their peak potential. This was due to a lack of monitoring mechanisms and an ineffective citizen complaint redress structure. Aside from that, there was no political willingness to achieve the goals of cleanliness. There was also little knowledge of solid waste management systems in local media, as well as among local authorities and resident welfare associations (RWAs).
Superlatively, a city is deemed to be completely clean if it follows the following five parameters:
· 100% drainage system with complete wastewater treatment recycling particularly for irrigation.
· 100% solid waste management policy with complete waste product recycling.
· Good irrigation network combined with rainwater harvesting.
· Paving or ranching of raw surfaces between road edges and construction lines.
· A routine cleaning of roads and streets ensures zero spread of solid waste.
With a percentage varying 80 to 95, Indore fulfills above essential parameters for which Indore has taken several measures to encourage people to adopt healthy habits:
· Free distribution of dustbins in wards / houses, wherever the resistance of people was strong.
· Combined visit by municipal officials and public representatives to encourage citizens to segregate waste at home.
· On a common forum, many religious leaders came together and performed mass road-sweeping exercises at different locations.
· The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) engaged 850 self-help organizations, comprising almost 8,500 women, in raising awareness for source segregation at home, undertaking mass campaigns, involving material recovery facilities.
· Campaigns for zero-waste markets and colonies were introduced to concentrate on areas in need of care.
· Composting awareness campaigns which culminated in more than 50,000 households doing home-based composting, by turning kitchen waste to compost.
· Imposing fines for non-segregation of household waste and public littering.
· The competition for becoming a clean city caused internal competition to be the number one clean ward among the corporators.
· Many NGOs have been deployed to motivate households to opt to collect segregated waste from door to door.
Presently, 100% of Indore's household waste is segregated at source, and then transferred to final processing and disposal stations. A collection and transportation app has been developed to ensure that the whole process is digitized, from door-to-door sorting to final waste disposal with a total digital data management system. A bio-CNG plant with a capacity of 200 tons per day was built which converts wet waste through the process of bio-methanisation which fuels 15 city buses daily. A dry waste processing plant has been established in public-private partnership (PPP) mode, with a capacity of 300 tons per day. A construction and demolition (C&D) waste facility with a capacity of 100 tons per day was also formed, which takes care of the generated waste within municipal limits and is reused to manufacture non-structural concrete, paving stones, lower layers of road pavements, etc.
Indore's dumping yard has been converted to a green belt through the bioremediation process. On the hundred acres of land worth Rs. 300 crore reclaimed land there's a plan to build a golf course and a city forest. Several social media initiatives have been taken up, apart from convectional information, education and communication (IEC) activities, which is why Indore has always ranked high in engagement with the people.
Once Indore became the cleanest city in 2017, all the focus has shifted in keeping the tag. Since then, the number of initiatives has only increased and enhanced the cleanliness story of the region. More than five 3R-based initiatives — reduce, reuse and recycle — have been undertaken to reduce Indore's waste and ensure long-term sustainability. These include Bartan Bank, Food Bank, Disposable Free Events, Arts and Crafts from Waste, Neki Ki Deewar (wall of good deeds) and the use of reusable cutlery in hotels and restaurants (instead of single-use plastic cutlery).
Indore's gross annual sanitation budget is '550 crore per annum. This sum is realized by citizens in the form of user fees that were set based on the buildings' plot area. At the same time, IMC imposed a system of punishments and rewards; those who littered public spaces would be condemned and those who efficiently managed their wastes would be lauded. Also, competitions are held every now and then between institutions , hospitals, restaurants and wards and the group that handles their waste in the most innovative and efficient way is appreciated.
For Indore, becoming India's cleanest town wasn't the easiest task to accomplish. But it became capable of winning the title of cleanest city in India by diligently for 4 consecutive years by following few simple steps and implementing some required laws in process. The tale of how Indore transformed into India’s cleanest city will inspire us to help make India a cleaner place.