Indore: Until two years ago, Madhya Pradesh’s largest and most populous city Indore painted a dismal picture of cleanliness and sanitation, earning itself the 149th spot in the Swachhta survey in 2014. The ranking was enough to put the administration to shame. And there began the story of a great turnaround.
A year later, in the same survey, Indore jumped to 25th position, recording multi-fold growth. But not many outside Indore noticed it. The cleanliness warriors of the city, which is also known as mini-Bombay for being business friendly, continued to work tirelessly.
Cut to 2017, Union minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation Venkaiah Naidu on May 4 declared that Indore was ranked the cleanest city in India. The numero uno position took many by surprise, but it came after sustained efforts of Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC).
Indore, which is home to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvarigiya, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh among others, could have scripted its success story without the IMC), say residents.
“Administration was given free-hand from Bhopal. They did what they wanted to for attaining the cleanliness goals,” said Pankaj Bharti, a commodity trader from Chhatribagh.
News18 spoke to the various stakeholders involved in project clean Indore and also travelled across the city to see how Indore became what it is now. Touted among efficient bureaucrats in Madhya Pradesh, Manish Singh was entrusted with the responsibility of IMC in 2015. He has been known to be an advocate of ways that are not quintessential, which helped the administration achieve the standard of cleanliness it had achieved since its induction into the hall of shame.
The municipal corporation has a lot of firsts to its credit. Giving full leverage to its workers to deal with the menace of stray animals, the corporation, under Singh, was probably the first such body to have brought down illegal dairies and cattle houses that were in a deplorable condition.
Many other illegal structures across the city were razed. Prominent among those were the 5-km stretch from Kanadia to Telephone Nagar, dense Raj Mohalla to Bada Ganpati area in old city, Mhow Naka to Tori Corner (from where the mayor belongs) and Malwa Mill. Fifty big properties used as illegal cattle sheds were demolished, while 2000 EWS houses were allotted to weaker sections. The administration freed 60-acre land in the heart of the city by redeveloping Shekhar Nagar slum.
Dumping of garbage in the open, combined with no segregation of trash, was another problem that plagued the city. The IMC started door-to-door garbage collection scheme and soon the residents were convinced about it. Piyush Solanki from Srinagar Extension area said regularity in garbage pick-ups has been remarkable of late. “Dustbins are emptied regularly, which is not a case in other cities where I have lived before,” Sandip Dwivedi, a resident of Vijaynagar.
The IMC made sure that garbage was picked up from residential areas once a day and from commercial areas twice a day. It also introduced separate dustbins for segregation of dry and wet garbage. The district administration and IMC also ran exclusive campaigns in media to raise awareness.
Public toilets were constructed to end open defecation. There were times, residents say, when they would see the IMC commissioner out on a walk in to keep a check on cleanliness.
“Earlier we had to struggle for equipment and even faced assaults during our drives, but nowadays we have no issues as we get machines and police protection on time,” a member of IMC’s encroachment removal team said.
Apart from smooth functioning of the waste water management plants, IMC made sure that drainage pipelines were laid down all over the city. The pipeline work will be completed soon, ridding the city of open drains.
Another feather in Indore’s hat is the use of plastic waste for construction of roads. The administration distributed covered dustbins to replace the open ones, and has also set up plants to make compost out of bio-degradable waste.
News18 spoke to locals on revival of the Khan river that flows from one end of the city to the other, only to witness that works on drainage and sewage pipelines were taking shape. The polluted river was never considered an asset to the city. The administration is now trying to revive it.
Environment activist Kishore Kodwani said the Khan river revival plan was a step in the right direction.
It seems apart from its famous poha, namkeen and jalebi, cleanliness is now another reason to visit Indore in the heart of India.