Union Minister of Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu has launched “Swachh Suvekshan-2017” to assess and rank 500 cities and towns based on levels of sanitation and efforts made by respective urban local bodies and also to capture progress towards achieving “Open Defecation Free” status. The minister also released the various publications and mobile applications to help the 500 cities and towns prepare for the survey to be conducted in January next year.
Naidu addressed mayors, municipal chairpersons, municipal commissioners and other concerned officials of 500 cities and towns to be surveyed via video conferencing. He informed the city officials that cities will be ranked based on the reports by urban local bodies on the progress made towards construction of toilets, feedback of citizens and independent observation of sanitation levels. Cities with a population of one lakh and above each, heritage and tourism cities, capital cities with less than one lakh population are included in this survey, the second since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
Referring to the stress being laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on creating a “Jan Andolan” (Mass movement) to ensure “Swachh Bharat” by 2019, Naidu launched a web portal “Swachhata App” and “Swachhta Helpline 1969” to enable citizens associate more and more with Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas. Citizens can post photos of unhygienic places in urban areas on Swachhata App and they will be informed of action taken by respective urban local bodies in specific time period. Using toll free Helpline Number 1969, citizens can seek information about the ways of participating in cleanliness mission and can also enquire the status of their applications for construction of toilets.
Stressing on the need for behavioral change in favour of using toilets, Naidu also launched “Asli Tarakki” campaign highlighting the need for construction of toilets and using them well. This campaign to be mounted on TV channels and in print media soon brings out that having two wheelers, air coolers, TV sets etc., is not ‘Asli Tarakki’ (real development) if such people did not either have toilets or don’t use them.
Naidu said that since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission by Prime Minister in October, 2014, there has been a huge positive upsurge of attitudes towards cleanliness and urged city officials to rise to the occasion and meet the aspirations of the people by helping them in construction of toilets. He gave some instances of attitudinal change further to the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission, which includes:
- Kunwar Bai, an old woman of 104 years of age belonging to Damtari district of Chattisgarh sold her goats to build a toilet;
- An old woman in Gujarat visiting households in Ahmedabad every day morning to find out if they had dustbins to throw the waste into and urging them not litter public places with household waste;
- Growing instances of young women refusing to get married into households without toilets;
- A mother-in-law in a muslim family in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh only recently presenting a toilet to her new daughter-in-law stating that she did not want her daughter-in-law to suffer the way she did for long;
- Lakhs of children urging their parents and grandparents not to chew tobacco and spit in the open;
- Millions of school students telling fellow students not to throw chocolate wrappers and other waste in the open urging them that ‘Modi will not like it’;
- A doctors couple in a village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh dedicating themselves continuously for over an year now working with people promoting the culture of sanitation.
- In Sangam Vihar in New Delhi, as reported only a couple of days back, about 45 families coming together to convert municipal waste being generated by them into compost, instead of throwing it in the open as was being done for long.
Emphasizing on the importance of sanitation workers, Naidu felicitated three such workers for their exemplary contribution to ensure cleanliness in respective cities. These were: T. Venkataiah, a garbage collector of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for working without taking a leave for 16 years, N. Gaurav of Guwahati Municipal Corporation for similar commitment and B. Nagaraj of Coimbatore Municipal Corporation for his sincerity to the cause besides contributing Rs 50,000 – for the education of poor children.
Adar C. Poonawalla, who contributed Rs 100 cr to Pune Municipal Corporation towards sanitation measures besides Tata Chemicals and Mahindra & Mahindra were honoured for donations for cleanliness initiatives.
Highlighting the role of Resident Welfare Associations to ensure cleanliness, Jawaharnagar RWA of Kochi in Kerala for promoting bio-degradable waste, Raj Hans RWA of Surat for promoting organic waste conversion and DLF Garden City RWA of Indore for promoting compost making, were felicitated by Naidu.
TV artists Deepika Singh, Dhriishti and Jennifer were also honoured for contribution towards generation of awareness about cleanliness.
Naidu informed that since the first Swachh Survekshan Survey among 73 cities with population of million and above each in January this year, 115 cities have become “Open Defecation Free” and another 793 cities and towns are set to become so by March next year. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will become ODF by March, 2017.
The minister stated that since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission in October, 2014, construction of 21 lakh household individual toilets has been completed and construction of another 21 lakh toilets is in progress. The mission target in this regard is construction of 1.04 cr toilets by 2019.
Quality Council of India which conducted the last survey in 73 cities will conduct the survey in 500 cities and towns.