Barring solitary achievements-- Ghaziabad breaking into top 11 clean cities in a cleanliness survey for instance-- Uttar Pradesh continues to raise a stink in the ‘swachh bharat abhiyaan’, a situation it now seeks to correct through a first of its kind ward-level cleanliness competition.
A brainchild of state’s urban development minister Suresh Khanna, the competition would pit the state’s 12,007 wards and 653 local bodies in a healthy contest ahead of the next Swachh Bharat survey.
The wards would be judged on solid waste management, infrastructure development, toilets, greenery and aesthetics, involvement of ‘clean ward encouragement committee’ set up in each ward, segregation of wastes, open defecation free and citizen feedback, the criteria identical to qualifications required to make an impression in swachh bharat surveys.
Swacchta (cleanliness) rallies would be taken out across the state till November 24 even though the clean ward contest ends formally on December 15.
Better performing wards and their representatives would be mentioned and rewarded first at the district level on December 23 followed by a state level recognition on December 25, former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary.
Reflecting UP’s anxiousness to improve its rankings in national cleanliness surveys, parameters set for the competition are similar to the one on which Ghaziabad had performed -- sanitation, cleanliness, plantation, segregation of solid waste, rejuvenation of ponds and facelift of primary schools in remote villages.
“There is no mistaking our zeal to make an impression and the competition would hopefully instill a feeling of healthy competition among our wards to qualify as UP’s best. This would then help us become India’s best,” said Sunil Mishra, a BJP cadre and aide of urban development minister Suresh Khanna.
The minister, who had after UP’s dismal show in Swachh Bharat rankings in 2017 picked up a broom to symbolically indicate the government’s commitment to cleanliness, has been sending recorded messages to the people. “I hope that together we will make a difference and the ward level competition would help create the right atmosphere to usher in cleanliness,” said the minister.
The government’s anxiousness isn’t misplaced given the state’s pathetic record.
Of the 60 UP cities that had participated in the Swachh Bharat abhiyaan to compete with 374 cities from across the country, 5 cities were ranked among top 10 dirtiest.
While UP’s Gonda had the ignominy of being rated as the country’s dirtiest, Hardoi, Bahraich and Khurja were also among the bottom 10 along with Shahjahanpur – from where UP’s urban development minister Suresh Khanna has been getting elected since 1989.
Last year UP had attempted first pre and post-monsoon cleanliness drive in villages across the state and tasked district magistrates, chief development officers and district panchayat raj officers (DPROs) with various responsibilities ‘Swachh Gram, Swachh Pradesh’ mission. The initiative was aimed at covering rural UP’s 97,942 villages under 51,899 gram panchayats spread across 75 districts of the state.