The latest cleanliness ranking has given Karnataka one reason to cheer and many to worry. While Mysuru has moved up to the third place nationally, from being eighth last year—it has been ranked the cleanest city in South India—the performance of other Karnataka cities, as per the Swachh Survekshan-2019 report, has been disappointing to say the least. Though Bengaluru has jumped from 216 to 194 in the rankings, the city is certainly not cleaner than it was last year. And to make the picture clear, the second cleanest city in the state, Mangaluru, has been placed a lowly 165th.
Mysuru, indeed, is a success story in terms of waste management and sanitation, and its top place in the first edition of the ranking in 2015 was no fluke. The credit must go to its people, ever concerned about the city’s image, and responsive civic agencies. Though the city slipped to 5th in 2017 and dropped to 8th last year, efforts by its civic workforce and citizens ensured that the rank improved.
What is heartening is that the city is not content with this too. It wants to regain the top rank. Its plan of action includes promotion of green weddings, exclusive shops for eco-friendly products, intensive awareness campaigns and upscaling of sanitation infrastructure.In sharp contrast to this is the story of Bengaluru. The city’s highest ranking came in the first survey, in which it was placed seventh. It dropped to 38 in 2016, 210 in 2017 and 216 in 2018. The reasons are not hard to see.
There is no proper system for solid waste management in place, and garbage handling is controlled by a mafia that enjoys political patronage. Door-to-door collection and segregation at source are a non-starter in many parts. Enforcement of the plastic ban is lax, and penalties and spot fines for dirtying the city bother no one. Public apathy is as much to blame as is the inefficiency of civic agencies. Bengaluru is a much larger city and hence the issues are more complex. But keeping the city clean is a basic requirement. A city that flaunts its modernity cannot afford to be counted among the dirtiest.