Tiruchi stays in top 10, Madurai down to 57 from 26, Greater Chennai plummets to 235
The Swachh Survekshan 2017 ranking, released for 434 towns and cities across the country by the Union Ministry of Urban Development on Thursday, has not brought cheer to Tamil Nadu. While Coimbatore has moved a couple of notches up to 16, Tiruchi has slipped to sixth position from third. The city had stood second in 2015.
Madurai is ranked 57, down from the previous year’s 26, and Greater Chennai plummeted to 235, from 36. Against four in 2016, 28 towns and cities from Tamil Nadu participated in the survey this year. The highest rank of six has gone to Tiruchi, while Rameswaram is ranked 268, the lowest among cities in the State.
Tiruchi is the only city from Tamil Nadu to figure in the top ten, scoring 1,716 out of 2,000 points. It secured 728 points more than the national average of 988 and 536 more than the State average of 1180. Coimbatore scored 1,650 points, against the previous year’s 1,361. Tiruchi scored well in four categories — citizen feedback, onsite observation, open defecation free/toilets, and capacity building initiatives. Its score was low in solid waste collection and transportation, solid waste processing and disposal, and municipal self-declaration. Officials in Coimbatore said that however high the Corporation rated its service level, it was not able to get a positive response from the people. Around 50% of respondents were unhappy with its solid waste management.
Officials do not want to look at the ranking as a reflection of their commitment. In 2016, 73 towns and cities were ranked while the number swelled to 434 in 2017. “We feel happy. We have lost the first place to Indore by just 91 points. If we had done well in citizen feedback, Tiruchi would have emerged on top,” said N. Ravichandran, Tiruchi Corporation Commissioner. This year, cities with over one lakh population had been included in the survey. This meant more competition from cities with fewer people and lesser waste, said Coimbatore Commissioner K. Vijayakarthikeyan. “When compared to last year, we have improved this time. We shall work hard to get into the top 10,” said Sandeep Nanduri, Madurai Commissioner.
An apparent let-up in attending to solid waste management proved costly for Salem, which is ranked 135. The low ranking requires the Corporation to calibrate its strategy accordingly, say NGOs. Salem Corporation does not have a proper garbage disposal system. It has proposed to construct a garbage processing unit and four pre-processing units as well as buy adequate dustbins, pushcarts, compactors etc. Failure to effectively implement anti-plastic drive has chocked drains.
There are others who are disappointed at the ranking. Officials of Tirunelveli Corporation, who implemented a novel system of plastic waste collection, only on Wednesdays, and facilitated conversion of degradable waste into manure, could not understand why it was ranked 193. Rank 108 is a disappointment for Vellore. An official observed that they expected to stand in the top 50. “What is lacking in Vellore is citizen involvement. We do not get views or comments from the public,” he said.
The case of Greater Chennai Corporation, which is ranked 235 owing to inadequate waste collection, lack of scientific solid waste processing, delay in construction of toilets and poor communication to bring about behaviour change, is different.
“The team visited the city a few days after Cyclone Vardah. Everything was in shambles. So our ranking dipped,” said an official. Many of the markets, places of worship and public places, including the Marina, were not clean during the visit of the team. Chennai received a score of 916 out of 2000.
According to data from the Chennai Corporation, 571 of the 866 toilets were damaged during the visit of the team. The civic body prepared estimates for restoration of toilets at ₹5.71 crore but just 47 were repaired and most of them were not clean, leading to a poor score. Officials who accompanied the team said many residents were of the view that solid waste management was inadequate.
Smaller corporations like Dindigul are happy with the ranking. “Excellent field work and combined efforts helped us achieve this rank of 106, above Salem, Tirunelveli and Chennai,” said Dindigul Commissioner N. Manoharan. “Erode’s 42nd position has a lot to do with sustained attention on attaining ODF status,” Commissioner Seeni Ajmal Khan said. Commissioner M. Ashokan looked at rank 68 as a commendable achievement for a city like Tirupur.
Factors like improper letting out of sewage and littering of Agnitheertham could have been reasons for pilgrim town Rameswaram’s rank of 268. Kumbakonam secured the 37th rank and Velankanni and Pudukottai were ranked 84 and 113, respectively.