As many as six cities have been certified as Five-Star - Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Mysuru, Indore and Navi Mumbai, 65 cities as Three-Star and 70 cities as One-Star, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri said on May 19 while announcing the results of the Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities.
Karnal, New Delhi, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chandigarh, Bhilai Nagar, Ahmedabad are among 'three-star garbage free rating'. Delhi Cantonment, Vadodara, Rohtak are among 'one-star garbage free cities'.
“The importance of sanitation and effective solid waste management has been brought to the forefront now due to the COVID crisis. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the present situation could have been much worse had it not been for the critical part that SBM-U has played in the last five years to ensure a high degree of cleanliness and sanitation in urban areas,” he informed the media.
Five years ago, the government introduced Swachh Survekshan (SS), the annual cleanliness survey for urban India that “has proven immensely successful when it comes to improving urban cleanliness through a spirit of healthy competition. However, since it is a ranking system, several of our cities, despite doing exceptionally well, were not being recognized appropriately,” he said.
It was due to this reason that the ministry devised the Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities - a comprehensive framework similar to examination systems where each ward in every city must achieve a certain standard across 24 different components of solid waste management (SWM) and is graded based on overall marks received.
Puri also launched the revised protocol for the Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities at the event. The Star Rating Protocol was launched by the Ministry in January 2018 to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve Garbage Free status, and to motivate cities to achieve higher degrees of cleanliness.
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“Our aim is to institutionalize as well as bring consistency and transparency when it comes to SWM. This certification is not only an acknowledgement of the clean status of Urban Local Bodies and strengthened SWM systems but also a mark of trust and reliability akin to universally known standards. Moreover, the performance of cities under the Star Rating Protocol is crucial as it carries significant weightage when it comes to their final assessment in Swachh Survekshan,” Puri said.
The protocol has been devised in a manner that includes components such as cleanliness of drains and water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction and demolition waste, which are critical drivers for achieving garbage free cities. While the thrust of this protocol is on SWM, it also takes care of ensuring certain minimum standards of sanitation through a set of prerequisites defined in the framework.
To ensure that the Protocol has a SMART framework, "we developed a three-stage assessment process. In the first stage, ULBs populate their progress data on the portal along with supporting documents within a particular timeframe. The second stage involves a desktop assessment by a third-party agency selected and appointed by MoHUA. Claims of cities that clear the desktop assessment are then verified through independent field level observations," said Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary - MoHUA.
In the recent phase of Star Rating Assessment, 1435 cities applied. During the assessments, 1.19 crore citizen feedback and over 10 lakh geo-tagged pictures were collected and 5,175 solid waste processing plants were visited by 1,210 field assessors. While 698 cities cleared the desktop assessment, 141 cities have been certified with Star Rating during field assessment. The low number of certifications signifies the rigorous and robust certification mechanism of the protocol.
In the light of the COVID pandemic, MoHUA has issued detailed guidelines to all states and cities on special cleaning of public places and collection and disposal of bio-medical waste from quarantined households. MoHUA, in the first week of April, revised its citizen grievance redressal platform, Swachhata App in order to enable citizens to get their COVID-related issues redressed by their respective ULBs.
“MoHUA has also issued an advisory in this regard which touches upon the aspect of provision of PPEs, health-check-ups and payment of regular wages to sanitation workers… Some cities have been making use of drones for the sanitization of public areas while others have been making extensive use of fire tenders for the same. Cities like Ghaziabad have done commendable work in provision of food and shelter to the needy. Technology has been leveraged to provide all essential services to citizens and monitor the status of quarantined homes,” the minister said.
Since its launch in 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) has made significant progress in the area of both sanitation and solid waste management. Today, 4,324 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) have been declared ODF (4,204 certified ODF), 1,306 cities certified ODF+ and 489 cities certified ODF++. Moreover, 66 lakhs individual household toilets and over 6 lakhs community/ public toilets have been constructed/ or are under construction.