That Bengaluru has slipped 172 places (from 38 to 210) in the latest Swachh Bharat ranking doesn’t come as a surprise. For, in every parameter used to assess cities for cleanliness, Bengaluru has little progress to show. The pitiable ranking underscores the city’s rapid degradation, aided and abetted by its managers and citizens.
That Mysuru, the cleanest city for two successive years, has slipped to fifth and Mangaluru has dropped from third to 63rd has only added insult to Karnataka’s injury. While failure to meet sanitation targets is blamed for Mysuru’s fall, it was an all-round failure that brought the mighty Bengaluru down, even as other cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad fared much better. In solid waste collection and transportation, Bengaluru scored just 50 per cent, but not without reason. Efforts to enforce waste segregation at source have been half-hearted so far. In waste processing and disposal, the city scored even lower, with its feeble attempts at waste recycling making no significant impact. It’s a matter of shame that the IT city fared poorly in meeting sanitation standards. The woeful shortage of public toilets is another reason for the sharp fall.
What’s more worrying is that Bengaluru scored zero in awareness campaigns. While civic agencies must take the blame for their failure to keep the city clean, the citizens have to be held equally responsible. The city needs better cleanup efforts coupled with sustained campaigns to increase awareness and make citizens fall in line. Bengaluru fully deserves the ‘dirty city’ tag. Civic agencies didn’t wake up fast enough to the sanitation needs of a growing city, and the result is there for everyone to see. Most of the city’s lakes have been killed by systematic dumping of garbage and release of sewage. Public spaces have been turned into impromptu garbage dumps. The government and citizens must wake up at least now. The task of keeping Bengaluru clean is enormous but it’s their responsibility and, hence, has to be done.