UPSC MAINS 2019: Swachh Survekshan 2019 throws up contradictions

Swachh Survekshan 2019 throws up contradictions


Topic: Swachh Survekshan 2019 throws up contradictions

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 : Indian Society


Swachh Survekshan 2019 throws up contradictionsContext:

In the fourth edition of Swachh Survekshan, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, most urban local bodies (ULBs) of the country, excluding those in West Bengal, participated to be ranked on the basis of various parameters of cleanliness.


More about on news:

  • The 2019 survey tried to acknowledge that its methodology needed to capture practices and successes that were outcome-based and sustainable.
  • The prime objective all editions, though, has been to encourage large-scale participation by citizens.
  • Also, a goal was to make all sections of the society aware about the importance of working together to make towns and cities a better place.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) conducted the first survey of 73 cities in 2016; Swachh Survekshan-2017 ranked 434 cities and the third round,in 2018, covered 4,203 statutory towns. Swachh Survekshan 2019, across 4,237 cities, covered 40 crore people.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind on March 6, 2019 presented awards to various ULBs for their achievements.


Category – Cleanest Cities
Overall India RankingIndore(Madhya Pradesh)
10 lakh Above PopulationAmdavad (Gujarat)
3 – 10 lakh PopulationUjjain (Madhya Pradesh)
1 – 3 lakh PopulationNewDelhi Municipal Council
Capital CitiesBhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Below 1 lakh Population – NorthNawanshahr Municipal Council (Punjab)
Below1 lakh Population –EastNarharpur Nagar Panchayat (Chhattisgarh)
Below 1 lakh Population – North EastThoubal Municipal Town (Manipur)
Below 1 lakh Population –WestKarad Municipal Council (Maharashtra)
Below 1 lakh Population –SouthPeriyapatna Town Panchayat (Karnataka)


Category – Best Solid Waste Management Practices
10 lakh Above PopulationSurat (Gujarat)
3 – 10 lakh PopulationLatur (Maharashtra)
1 – 3 lakh PopulationNagda (Madhya Pradesh)
Capital CitiesChandigarh (Haryana/Punjab)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – NorthRupnagar Municipal Council (Punjab)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – EastPhusro Nagar Parishad (Jharkhand)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population–North EastBongaigaon Municipality (Assam)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – WestKhopoli Municipal Council (Maharashtra)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – SouthHunsur Town Municipal Council (Karnataka)


Category – Best Innovation & Best Practices
10 lakh Above PopulationJabalpur(Madhya Pradesh)
3 – 10 lakh PopulationJhansi (Uttar Pradesh)
1 – 3 lakh PopulationDewas(Madhya Pradesh)
Capital CitiesGreater Mumbai(Maharashtra)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – NorthGulaothi Municipal Council (Uttar Pradesh)
>50,000 to1 lakh Population – EastGumla Nagar Panchayat (Jharkhand)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – North EastLunglei Notified Town (Mizoram)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – WestAmbajogi Municipal Council (Maharashtra)
>50,000 to 1 lakh Population – SouthKavali Municipality (Andhra Pradesh)


Swachh Survekshan:

  • Swachh Survekshan is a ranking exercise taken up by the Government of India to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner.
  • The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.
  • Additionally, the survey also intends to foster a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, towards creating cleaner cities and towns.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India takes up the Swachh Survekshan in urban areas and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in rural areas.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) has been commissioned the responsibility of carrying out the assessment.


Swachh Survekshan – Urban:

  • Since the start of SBM in 2014, urban areas of 23 states / UTs have become ODF, and more than 94% cities are already ODF.
  • Nearly 63 lakh individual household toilets (94% progress), and more than 5 lakh community / public toilet seats (more than 100% progress) have been constructed.
  • Parallelly, more than 42,000 public toilet blocks across 1400 cities have been mapped and visible on Google maps.
  • The Google toilet locator also provides an option for citizens to provide their feedback after using the toilets.
  • Waste processing has gone up to 52% (compared to a mere 18% at the start of the Mission).


Swachh Survekshan 2019:

  • Swachh Survekshan 2019 covered 4,237 cities in a record time of 28 days, in a completely paperless, digital format for data collection.
  • Moreover, in this short span of time, assessors managed to visit nearly 73,000 wards, 21,000 commercial areas, 69,000 residential areas, 75,000 community/public toilets, and more than 3100 waste to compost plants across the country.
  • Indore has been awarded the cleanest city in the country in the Swachh Survekshan 2019 (SS 2019) awards while Bhopal has been declared as the cleanest capital.
  • Ujjain has bagged the award for being the cleanest city in the population category of 3 lakh to 10 lakh.
  • The top 20 cities in 2019 survey who have been the forerunners in Urban India’s progress towards swachhata – from large cities such as Indore, Mysuru, Ahmedabad, Navi Mumbai, Tirupati, Rajkot, Vijayawada, Ghaziabad, Surat, to smaller towns and cities such as Mul, Ambikapur, Ujjain, NDMC, Karhad, Lonavala, Vita, Dewas, Bhilai, Shahganj, and Panhala. Ambikapur in Chattisgarh got the second prize overall and has become a role model for other towns in the state.
  • Chhattisgarh has also emerged India’s top performer among states, followed by Jharkhand and Maharashtra.


Methodology this year:

The total possible marks were set at 5000 for the new edition; four categories with weightage of 25 per cent each include citizen feedback, progress level data,direct observation and a new category on certifications such as Star Rating of Garbage Free City, ODF+ and ODF++.

  • Citizen Feedback: The Swachh app, which was only being used during the survekshan time by citizens until 2018, was revised to be used for round-the-year citizen engagement. A question on source segregation of waste was added to the citizen feedback questionnaire.
  • Progress Level Data: The data for the new edition had to be filled online on the MIS systems by ULBs directly. The cities were given training on how to file the progress level data. The questionnaire this year included substantial questions on sustainable waste management practice and more questions on regulation were added, checking whether cities had passed bylaws based on Solid and Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016.
  • Direct Observation: Sample sizing was done based on the population with scope of error margin and also included components of slabs for negative marking in case of non-compliance on the ground to determine the final score for a ULB.
  • Certifications: Certification for Star Rating of Garbage-Free City had to be applied for by ULB. In cases where by declaration the star rating was 3 and above, a third agency was sent for assessment and verification on the ground.


Quality Council of India:

  • It is an autonomous body of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
  • It was created jointly by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) & Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM).
  • Main objectives of it :
    • To establish and operate national accreditation structure
    • To monitor and administer the National Quality Campaign


Critical evaluation of Swachh Survekshan:

  • The Survekshan has definitely received much fervour from participating cities. Also, to some degree, it has been successful in capturing the changing landscape of cleanliness in India. But the challenges on the ground are many and they remain.
  • The fact that, according to the 2019 report, only three ULBs across India were eligible for a 5-star rating under the Star Rating of Garbage-Free while only 53 ULBs were certified to be 3-stars and 1,239 ULBs were self-declared as 1 or 2 stars is underwhelming.
  • It is a testimony to the poor state of governance and implementation of sustainable waste management practice on-ground.
  • This also means the rest of 2,942 cities did not get a star-rating. Yet, according to the survey, 61 per cent of all wards in the country have achieved 100% source-segregation target!
  • It also ‘claim’ that 51 per cent of the waste generated in the country is processed, which is improbable.
  • The survey also takes into count the plants that have been tendered but their construction is yet to begin. There are also countless plants in the country that lie dysfunctional.
  • There is no doubt that the survey has bought in a good sense of competition among cities to become cleaner and adopt effective methods, there are also numerous best practices that can be adopted and cities can learn from each other.
  • However, there are only a few cities that have cracked the code for sustainable waste management and have been able to keep up the good work over the years.
  • Also, a lot of initiatives of cities in states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa and Bihar have not been acknowledged.


Is Swachh Survekshan 2019 rewarding wrong end of waste management?

  • Swachh Survekshan 2019 has rewarded cities that implemented a cleanliness drive during the two to three months of the survey.
  • Many cities that work all year towards household-level segregation, decentralised recycling and reuse of waste were given poor rankings
  • The authors of the report went on to add that sweeping waste out of sight is not the answer to the growing problem. “This cannot be the way to incentivise and recognise cities for waste management
  • Swachh Survekshan rankings have become like an annual affair when cities work to get good ranking for three-four months, and are lax for the rest of the year. Visual cleanliness has become key.
  • A study has found thar nearly half of India’s incineration-based Waste-to-Energy plants are defunct or are working below capacity, and many don’t comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, but most cities have proposed and promote WtE plants.


Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement) is a campaign that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014.
  • The campaign seeks to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4041 statutory cities and towns.
  • Behaviour change has been the focus of Swachh Bharat Mission, which is being pursued through a countrywide comprehensive IEC (Information-Education-Communication) programme.
  • Communication campaigns have been taken up both, at the central and state levels, for promoting sustained use of toilets and for sustaining the Open Defecation Free status achieved.
  • Objectives of Swachh Bharat are to reduce or eliminate open defecation through the construction of individual, cluster and community toilets.
  • Under both the versions of the campaign – Gramin and Urban, the government aims to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • For that purpose, 12 million toilets are being constructed in rural India at a projected cost of Rs 1.96 lakh crore.
  • Over 50 crore people stopped defecating in the open since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The national sanitation coverage is now in excess of 98 percent, compared to 39 percent in 2014.
  • Over 5.5 lakh villages and 615 districts have been declared ODF, along with 30 ODF States and Union Territories.


Achievements under the Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014, the urban areas of 23 states and UTs have become Open Defecation Free (ODF).
  • Over 94 percent cities are already ODF.
  • Nearly 63 lakh individual household toilets (94 percent progress), and more than 5 lakh public toilet seats have been constructed.
  • Google Toilet Locator: More than 42,000 public toilet blocks across 1400 cities have been mapped and are visible on Google Maps. The locator provides an option for citizens to provide their feedback after using the toilets.
  • Waste processing has gone up to 52 percent, which was mere 18 percent at the start of the Mission.
  • 1 percent of households in Rural India were found to have access to toilets during the survey period
  • 5 percent of the people, who had access to toilets, actually used them
  • 7 percent of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF
  • The remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93 percent
  • 4 percent of the surveyed villages have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water


Sample Question:

Is Swachh Survekshan 2019 rewarding wrong end of waste management? Critically evaluate the Swachh Survekshan 2019.

Swachh Survekshan 2019 - Info graphics - Mar20th