Race for Cleanliness: Lessons that Bengaluru can learn from Mysuru

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"Devote 100 hours every year towards the cause of cleanliness", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing his fellow citizens on the day of launch of the Swacch Bharat campaign in 2014 - which the Mysureans seemed to have followed obediently - as the city emerges to be the cleanest in India for the second time as announced by a sanitation survey done recently.

While Mysuru wears the crown of the cleanest city in India for the second time, Bengaluru misses the bus and rather drops down to a further low in the ranking list.

Cleanliness drive

About the survey:

The recent sanitation survey ‘Swachh Survekshan-2016' conducted by the Ministry of Urban Development under the Swachh Bharat Mission, unveiled the list of 73 major cities that were surveyed for sanitation scenario last month. 53 cities with a population of above ten lakhs each and 22 capitals that do not have that much population were selected for the survey. The Quality Council of India has been appointed as the agency to conduct an independent audit for all the cities. Public participation and their opinion have been key to the assessment process by the agency. The cities have been assessed on different parameters including garbage collection and management, toilets in public places, sanitation, elimination of open air defecation, awareness drives, etc.

While Mysuru has retained its top ranking position, Bengaluru's ranking has declined from 7 in 2015 to 38 this year, compelling one to wonder about this sharp contrast between both the cities belonging from the same state. So, what's the secret behind Mysore's success story and what all lessons Bengaluru should probably learn from its neighboring city before it degrades further.

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MCC's active role:

Mysuru - the third largest city of Karnataka, has continued to retain the top slot. Apart from its legacy of cleanliness since the time of its royal rulers, the city corporation has also played a significant role in ensuring proper cleanliness across the city. Advanced methodologies and a robust mechanism have helped the city to earn the cleanest city tag.

The city corporation which takes care of core civic services has doggedly led all the initiatives that have been part of the roadmap for Mysuru's cleanliness agenda. From roping in royal family members as ambassadors for its campaign to engaging community as partners, the MCC have stepped up their efforts gradually and steadily to keep up their glory.

This in turn has motivated stakeholders and individuals to team up with the civic body in their cleanliness efforts. The city corporation has also adopted various new measures. A Hindu report quoted MCC Commissioner C.G. Betsurmath as saying, "In connection with the proposed survey and independent audit, the MCC has furnished more than 20,000 telephone numbers - about 2,000 numbers from each of the nine zones of the MCC - to the audit agency for their survey."

Mysuru's robust cleanliness mechanism:

The process that is followed by the corporation is as effective as unique it is. The cleaners work in three shifts and their tasks are monitored and assessed by the supervisors. The systematic and organized handling of the waste management have also ensured regularity of the process. The door-to-door garbage collection in all sixty-five wards of the city also has added to its benefits. An India Today report talks of how the city corporation has deployed auto trippers and push carts to collect waste from every households.

Solid Waste Management:

Another highlights of the city's civic programme is its solid waste management. The city that generates 400-odd tonne of waste in daily basis, is up ahead compared to its contemporaries when it comes to solid waste management. A Business Standard report quoted MCC Commissioner Chandrashekhar G Betsurmath, who believes that ‘the credit for Mysuru's ranking goes primarily to the well-functioning solid segregation plants in the city'. The report mentions that out of nine segregation plants, eight are running in the city, the biggest being the Excel plant. And, out of the entire amount of waste generated every day, 180-200 tonne comes here. The focus primly lies upon systemic segregation of wet and dry waste and also producing quality compost.

Segregate waste at source:

Mysuru has ably maintained its efforts in segregating waste at source. A Times of India report quoted MCC chief health officer H Ramachandra as saying, "We are generating 402 tonnes of garbage daily of which 200 tonnes is processed like before. What has made the task easier is the awareness level among people to ensure that the city is clean. Around 70% of households now segregate waste at source."

The civic body also maintains supply of dustbins to the poor families and occasionally advocates awareness campaigns. Meanwhile, the MCC has come up with further plans to ensure smooth functioning of the practise. The civic body has announced plans to set-up two more composting units with a total capacity of 300 tonnes for better waste segregation and recycling of remaining waste.

Citizen's active participation:

Apart from the civic body, Mysoreans have been passionately engaged in ensuring proper cleanliness of the city. Non-government organizations like Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) and volunteer-driven initiative like ‘Let's do it Mysore' work religiously to keep the city clean. While MGP has been working effortlessly alongside the MCC to raise awareness of rights and responsibilities among public regarding cleanliness, ‘Let's do it Mysore' has brought thousands of Mysoreans together to sweep garbage off Mysore's face. A Business Standard article reports how the volunteers work unitedly to ensure a timely execution of their tasks and cover all 65 wards of the corporation.

Other plans:

MCC is also mulling plans to upgrade the infrastructure of public toilets and make them more ‘physically-disabled friendly'. The corporation has also stepped up its effort to make the city free, on which the civic body claims to have progressed quite further. In order to strengthen the solid waste management system, MCC have planned to increase the capacity of nine zero waste management plant that are active now in the city.

Compared to this robust mechanism and an active civic society of this heritage city, the capital city of the state lags behind in number of aspects. Although Bangalore has lately geared up with several cleanliness measures and even the residents have been seen voluntarily manning initiatives, still the city has a long way to go before it stands to claim the cleanest city tag.

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