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Special Content

Issue No 36, 04 December -10 December 2021

Swachh Amrit Mahotsav 2021 Swachhta Champions Of Urban India Felicitated

Sameera Saurabh

 The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind felicitated awardees of the Swachh Bharat Mission - Urban 2.0 during the 'Swachh Amrit Mahotsav' hosted as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on 20th November, 2021. The ceremony organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) entailed felicitation of towns/ cities, States and Union Territories for their outstanding performance in implementing and realizing the goals of the various initiatives of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), viz. Swachh Survekshan 2021, Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge, and certifications for garbage-free star rating for cities. The event saw more than 300 awards under various categories being given away.

 Swachh Survekshan 2021

 Indore bagged the title of India's Cleanest City under Swachh Survekshan for the fifth consecutive year, while Surat and Vijayawada bagged the second and third spots respectively in the 'more than 1 lakh population' category. In the population category of 'less than 1 lakh', Vita, Lonavala and Sasvad, all from Maharashtra, bagged the first, second and third positions respectively. Varanasi emerged as the 'Best Ganga Town' while Ahmedabad Cantonment won the title of 'India's Cleanest Cantonment', followed by Meerut Cantonment and Delhi Cantonment. Hoshangabad (Madhya Pradesh) emerged as the 'Fastest Mover City' (in the 'more than 1 lakh population' category) with a jump of 274 ranks from 361st position in the 2020 rankings to the 87th position this year, thus securing a place among the top 100 cities.

 Chhattisgarh, for the third consecutive year emerged as the 'Cleanest State' in the category of "more than 100 Urban Local Bodies" while Jharkhand, for the second time, won the Cleanest State award in the "less than 100 ULBs category". Karnataka and Mizoram became the 'Fastest Mover States' in the big (more than 100 ULBs) and small (less than 100 ULBs) state category respectively.

 This year's Survekshan, participated by 4,320 cities, also saw an unprecedented number of citizens' feedback - over 5 crores, compared to 1.87 cores last year. Despite the challenges posed by COVID19, a team of over 2,000 assessors visited over 65,000 wards in a record time of 28 days. Maharashtra has successfully bagged a total of 92 awards, the highest by any State in this year's Survekshan, followed by Chhattisgarh with 67 awards. Additionally, under the Prerak Daaur Samman, a new performance category introduced under Swachh Survekshan 2021, five cities - Indore, Surat, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi Municipal Council and Tirupati were categorized as 'Divya' (Platinum).

 Over the years, Swachh Survekshan (SS) has emerged as an effective tool for transforming the urban landscape. SS 2021 has also helped identify over 6,000 innovations and best practices in sanitation and waste management from across the urban India. The Hon'ble President has noted that good examples are coming out of the idea of 'Waste to Wealth' and many start-ups are active in this area and that appropriate schemes could be developed to encourage entrepreneurship and investment in this area.

 Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge

 Safaimitras, the frontline soldiers of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban were also felicitated to commemorate World Toilet Day (19 November). The top performers under the first ever Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge were recognized. Indore, Navi Mumbai, Nellore and Dewas emerged as the top performers, across different population categories among 246 participating cities in the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge, launched last year by the Government to eradicate human fatalities from hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Among the States, Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh bagged the award for best performing State and Union Territory under the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge. In the last one year, the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge has been able to propel the 'manhole to machinehole' revolution in urban India through initiatives such as credit linkages of Safaimitras with banks through the National Safai Karamchari Financial Development Corporation (NSKFDC), on-the-job trainings through the Sector Skill Council for Green Jobs and setting up of helpline number 14420 in over 190 cities - a citizens' grievance platform.

 Garbage-Free Star Rating for Cities

A total of 9 cities - Indore, Surat, New Delhi Municipal Council, Navi Mumbai, Ambikapur, Mysuru, Noida, Vijayawada and Patan- have been certified as 5 star cities while 143 cities have been certified as 3 star. The Star Rating Protocol of Garbage Free Cities was introduced as a SMART framework by MoHUA in 2018, to holistically evaluate cities across solid waste management parameters. In 2018, only 56 cities were awarded certification on some star rating. This year, the number has gone up manifold with 2,238 cities applying for the assessment. The mammoth exercise was completed successfully despite the COVID-19 restrictions as is evidenced in the numbers - 1.4 crore photographic evidence collected across 3.5 crore data points, along with 14.19 lakh citizen validation and 1 lakh locations covered during the assessment period.

 Mission Objectives

The Swachh Bharat Mission - Urban (SBM-U), launched on 2nd October 2014 aims at making urban India free from open defecation and achieving 100% scientific management of municipal solid waste in 4,041 statutory towns in the country. Swachh Bharat Mission has been working for the betterment of the society by raising people's standard of living through sanitation, hygiene and safe water leading to economic upliftment and better health.

 The objectives of the mission are mentioned below:

· Elimination of open defecation

· Eradication of manual scavenging

· Modern and scientific municipal solid waste management

· To effect behavioral change regarding healthy sanitation practices

· Generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health

· Capacity augmentation for urban local bodies

· To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operation and maintenance)

 Recent events

 To ensure a continuous engagement and higher awareness among the citizens, a participatory approach for implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission is being executed in the form of theme-based cleanliness drives on regular intervals, which are specific to a sector. Theme-based interventions are conducted, targeting core city spaces and areas. Depending upon the specific theme, relevant government departments and entities are engaged to facilitate the implementation of the drives and participation by relevant stakeholders. The launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and AMRUT- 2.0 by Hon'ble Prime Minister on 1st October, 2021 was a landmark event.

 Earlier, on 27th September 2021 the 'Swachh Survekshan 2022' was launched. On the same day, 'Kachra Alag Karo Amrit Diwas' was observed during which all over India, door to door campaign by groups of Swachhagrahis for source segregation by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Wards/Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) was undertaken. Felicitation of best performing Resident Welfare Associations, Slum Development Authorities, and others was also done on the day. Sarvjanik Sauchalaya Safai Jan Bhagidari Amrit Utsav was celebrated during 28th -29th September 2021 under which community and public toilets cleanliness feedback by citizens was taken.

 Safaimitra Samman Amrit Samaroh was also organized on 2nd and 3rd October where a virtual interaction and loan disbursement to Safaimitras was held and digital displays for sensitizing the citizens was arranged. Felicitation of waste processing entrepreneurs, and waste to art exhibitions/display of 'Bartan Bhandars' was also organized.

 Technological interventions

 Technology has played a critical role in achieving the outcomes under SBM-U's journey in the last seven years. Taking a giant leap forward in this digital journey, the Ministry has revamped the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 website and the integrated MIS portal 'Swachhatam'. The 'Swachhata App 2.0' is a pan-India civic technology platform that gives the public options to report public urination spots, locate and rate public toilets. Additionally, a futuristic and state-of-the-art spatial GIS platform has been launched that will further propel the mission towards smart, data driven decision making. These new digital enablement will further enable the mission to become paperless, robust and transparent, along with round-the-clock connectivity with States, Cities and stakeholders across the Swachhata spectrum.

 (The author is Director, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. She can be reached at sameera.saurabh@gmail. com.)

 Views expressed are personal