Bengaluru's fall from Garden City to Garbage City has been confirmed by the poor rating it has received in the Swachh Survekshan survey of the Centre for two consecutive years. Accused of manipulating data, the BBMP cuts a sorry figure as it struggles to make an impression on the Centre's inspectors. Although hoping for a better rating in the 2019 survey it still hasn’t collated the neccessary data, reports Aknisree Karthik
As Bengaluru continues to struggle with its garbage collection and disposal, other cities around the country are marching ahead of it in the Swachha Survekshan Survey that ranks them in terms of their cleanliness. While its ranking of 210 in 2017 was bad enough, it shamefully slipped further down to the 215th position in 2018 in the survey which covered 4,203 cities around the country. And now with the survey switching to a 'star rating system' some solid waste experts believe it may not get even one star out of seven in 2019.
Solid waste experts warn the city's rating could get a terrible beating as the authorities have still not begun collating data on garbage collection and uploading it on the survey website although this should have begun on September 1 this year.
Says Mr Ram Prasad, a solid waste management expert, "The Swachh Survekshan 2019 will be conducted across cities and towns in the country starting January 2019. But even the preliminary work has not begun in the city on compiling the data it needs. Cities that are inferior to Bengaluru in many respects like Srinagar and Nagpur have already begun their spadework, but the BBMP has not.”
The problem is that the civic agency does not have enough data on garbage management in the city, he explains. "Right from the time that the garbage is collected to the point where it is taken to the processing unit for recycling, every bit of data is crucial to fetch the city good ratings in the survey. But the BBMP does not have proper numbers on how many autos and mini trucks collect garbage in the city or how many trucks carry what quantity of garbage to the processing plants,” Mr Prasad regrets.
Pointing out that such data has to be generated on a day-to-day basis and uploaded on the portal of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs portal, he says failure to do so could cost the city once again in terms of ranking or “stars” in the survey in the coming year.
Besides collecting the data on garbage management, the BBMP will have to make sure the city is clean on the ground too as the survey will verify everything that it presents to it on paper. Better maintained public toilets, streets free of garbage and other such parameters will be taken into account during an inspection that will form the basis of its new ranking.
Unfortunately, the city doesn’t seem any better prepared on this front too, which leaves Bengalureans staring at another embarrassing commentary on its status.
Babus claim city cleaner than what it appears on paper
Despite the many darts coming its way, the BBMP claims it has been doing its best to improve its falling ranking in the Swachh Survekshan survey, and blames it more on “ poor management of information and documentation,” rather than the actual state of cleanliness in the city.
But its defence doesn’t hold water for many as even Mysuru has beaten Bengaluru hollow to sit pretty at fifth place in the survey in 2017 and at eighth place in 2018.
Even more embarrassing for the civic agency, a member of the core committee for strategy and planning for the Swachh Survekshan survey claims it has manipulated data to boost the city’s ranking and this has cost it over the years.
"The cleanliness survey is scheduled to begin in January 2019 and the ministry of housing and urban affairs will inspect the city and verify data provided by it through an independent third party. Any manipulation in the data collected will only get it a bad rating once again,” the member warns.
Ask Mayor Sampath Raj about the city’s poor showing in the Central survey on cleanliness of cities around the country and he says the BBMP has been taking suggestions from SWM experts on ways improve its ranking. “If we have slipped in the ranks because of manipulated data, then we will check this too,” he assures.
BBMP’s Special Commissioner for solid waste management, Randeep D also claims the civic body is working to get a better ranking this year. “We plan to take the guidance of NGOs involved in solid waste management to get a better rating this year,” he reveals, adding that a Programme Management Unit will be set up soon and adequate staff appointed to evaluate the data collected to make sure it reflects the ground reality.
Question and Answer with Sampath Raj Mayor
‘We will do everything to improve our ranking’
Last year, the BBMP boasted it had taken all steps to secure a position among the top 10 cities in the Swachh Survekshan survey, but ended up at the 215th place. Why did this happen?
Yes, we took a lot of steps to improve the city’s ranking, but it still received the 215th rank. Our officials have been looking at what went wrong and have been making efforts to improve things.
Solid waste management experts claim the slip in the ranking was because of manipulated data, which did not reflect the ground reality in the city?
We have been consulting SWM experts to improve the ranking. If we slipped in the ranks because of manipulated data, we will try to check this.
When many cities have already started to collect and upload their data for the survey from September 1, why hasn’t the BBMP?
Our officials have been looking into it. I will have to check with them to know what is causing the delay in collecting the data and uploading it on the website....