Stephen Neil Gershom and Shama Nimkar
Swachh Survekshan, a survey report which ranks cities according to their cleanliness, has ranked Bengaluru at number 38 on its list. The Swachh Survekshan report is part of the Swachh Bharat mission which was launched in October 2014, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Swachh Bharat mission was initiated with the aim of bringing cleanliness and awareness of hygiene to the people throughout India and the first Survekshan report was brought out 15 months after the mission was initiated, just to show progress and to rank cities using six parameters:
-Strategies for making the town open defecation free and integrating solid waste management.
-Informing, educating and communicating to the public about behavior change.
-Door-to-door collection of garbage.
-Sweeping and transportation of garbage.
-Processing and disposal of waste.
-Provision of Public and Community toilets as well as Individual toilets.
Bengaluru, a major metropolitan city, much loved by the local citizens, migrants from other parts of the country and the foreigners living here, has been ranked at number 38, among the 73 cities surveyed by the report. This is probably due to sights that has become part of daily life here in the city, which go unnoticed most of the time.
The word Broadway generally brings to mind Hollywood and the famous star studded walk, but connect the same word to Bengaluru, and one will be led to the chaotic Broadway road in Shivajinagar. Amidst the hundreds of shops located on both sides of this road, when one looks observantly amongst the chaos, one can find the filth, dirt and stench.
It is a similar story with the landmark Coles Park. The entire area near Frazer Town is known by this public park and yet, the garbage lies in the open, right outside the park. The same goes for posh localities like Church Street. Where the waste from the restaurants in the upmarket area lies outside, till it is collected by the BBMP workers.
Literate and illiterate people are seen throwing waste carelessly on the streets, plastics are burned forming harmful and toxic pollutants in the air, people are seen spitting on the pavements and out of buses etc.
Another example of filth and pollution is the location of the Columbia Asia hospital which is located right on the Airport Road and just around hundred metres away from an electric crematorium, the fumes from which are let out unfiltered, letting the stench out.
When asked about the reasons for Bengaluru ranking low, the senior environment officer at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Dr. A. Ramesh replied, “The rise of pollution in Bengaluru is a result of three major factors. The dumping of untreated sewage into water bodies and roads, dumping of unsegregated waste and the existence of an increasing diverse population with varying lifestyles, living in one city. Segregated waste from houses is disposed of together at the end, in the waste disposing cycle. The whole purpose of segregation goes into vain.”
The whole concept of segregation is fairly new to Bengaluru, and came up only in 2013, after residents near Mandur and Mavallipura, the sites which were used to dump garbage, started protesting against the dumping and clashed with authorities. They said the filth led to diseases in their villages.
The concept of segregation has not yet been implemented at the grassroots level of individual households, but thankfully has been implemented in most of the city’s large apartments and gated communities.
When asked about the progress of the city in terms of cleanliness, especially given that the Second Survekshan report, due for 2017 has already begun, Dr. Ramesh said, “The ban on plastic has definitely been effective in reducing waste pollution. Every individual should be made aware of their responsibility to keep the city clean. Hopefully, we will move up a few ranks in the next report which is due in 2017”.
Mr. Suhaan, a resident of Kothanur said, “As a citizen of the city, I am equally responsible for the low ranking, and cannot blame just the civic authorities and so are also the other citizens. The citizens should be aware and responsible, in order to make Bengaluru cleaner.
Swachh Survekshan – 2017, was launched last month by the minister of Urban Development, Shri M Vekaiah Naidu, and this time, the survey will rank 500 cities. The report is expected to be out in 2017, and it remains to be seen how well Namma Bengaluru performs this time around.