How Indore Became Garbage-Free and Beat Every Other City to It

Forums General News (General) How Indore Became Garbage-Free and Beat Every Other City to It

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      But don’t judge a book by its cover. At this point in time, there is nothing less than a mini revolution going on in the city and, in particular, in its citizenry. At a red light, a writer saw a taxi driver tell off an auto rickshaw driver who spat on the road that he should watch it; else he will call the helpline. “Fine lag jayega”, he told him angrily while uttering some other words that are better left unsaid.

      For regular Indian eyes trained and accustomed to trash, the obvious question that arises is, what on earth is going on in this town?

      Here’s what. A man barks some instructions into a Motorola walkie-talkie as the car zips down the road heading towards his next engagement. His instructions reach 400 officials including ward heads (also known as daroghas) to scrub the public toilet seats so there are no marks left whatsoever. “Just throwing some water in won’t solve the problem,” he explains in chaste but firm Hindi. The urgency in his tone is a bit unnerving. Traveling with him in the vehicle, you can’t shake off the feeling that you are in some kind of a war zone. A war against garbage.

      But just barking orders is not how Manish Singh, the 49-year-old municipal commissioner, 2009 IAS batch, MP cadre – who has been municipal commissioner of Bhopal too – has achieved this remarkable feat. When he joined in May 2015, a private company entrusted with the task was almost defunct and no services were being provided. The city was filthy, as anyone who lived there or visited will testify. He found almost 1,800 spots in the city that were eyesores. A public interest litigation had been filed by an activist in the city against the authorities. Asad Warsi, director of Eco Pro Environmental Services, working as a consultant to the authorities, says Indore was “no different than Lucknow, Allahabad or several other UP towns” – often spoken of as role models of how bad things can get.

      Manish has employed every possible tactic available to get the job done. But to start with, he started doing what municipal corporations are supposed to – door to door collection of garbage.

      The city generates around 1,100 metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) a day. Collection services by municipal authorities are now on offer at almost every door (including slum areas and illegal colonies) at ₹60 a month (less than what private services charge). Three drivers that a reporter spoke to confirm that the areas where they live have “never been cleaner”.

      Collecting garbage from every household is one aspect. Keeping public areas and roads clean is another.

      Main roads are swept thrice a day instead of twice as in most cities.


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