Karnataka Making Imprints in the Nation’s Mission for Clean City

The Urban Development department of the state has strategized plans to monitor this regions minutely to cut the menace of littering, banning plastic usage and waste management, based on which and several others, Karnataka has improved drastically in Swachha Sarvekshan ranking by Government of India. Elaborating further, Anjum Parvez, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka states: “Cleanliness is much more than a mission. It’s more of a mind-set that we had to inculcate within our citizens, who themselves reject using plastic bags and promote other several mandates that the state government department owns and adopt. Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCities World writes excerpts:

healthcare parameter for the city. The most important aspect here is to convince people that by not littering or by not using plastic products, they are not only promoting cleanliness but also ensur

Recently Mysuru is nominated for clean city awards. Please share with us, what relevant strategies have been adopted in this respect to achieve this milestone?

Mysuru is declared as the cleanest city across the southern zone and is declared for an overall perspective across bigger and smaller cities. When observed from the solid waste management perspective, one of the main components which contributes to this is the town planning. Mysuru is one of the most planned cities since the times when Maharajas used to rule the city and the city runs in a very much planned and systematic manner. Secondly, the city involved self-help groups for a massive campaign on cleanliness, with the help of civil society, which enabled us to reach each and every house, surveying on what is important for a clean city and how it is going to be helpful to maintain a standard 

ing good health for themselves and their families.

In another method, we involved the college and school students for massive mass campaigning for cleanliness drive in the city. Our intent for involving them is to mobilise the solid waste management effectively at the grass root level, with the involvement of citizens. In case of Mysuru, the citizens were highly enthusiastic about this initiative and took pride in the fact that they are doing something for their own city and simultaneously, doing their bit to bring Mysuru in the national map for a noble purpose. As far as the infrastructure part in this process is involved, one of the key component is waste segregation, and herein the civic authorities and officials take all initiatives to involve and educate citizen individually, through door-to-door campaigning and drive- about the importance of waste segregation at source. Needless, to say that the source segregation is very high, in case of Mysuru, which has made our life easy. We have involved self-help groups in the city, for collection of door to door wastes and then we created a good infrastructure of auto-feeder. Once collected from localities, the wastes are prepared for transfer and then for land-fill. Mysuru land-fill sites are good examples of compost-processing units. One of the compost processing cites is of 400 metric tonnes capacity, which made it easy for us to composting and then process the inner dumping in the land fill.

Another initiative that helped us rank well on cleanliness is that we have banned plastic in the entire state. However, in spite of banning it, not all cities performed well. Here what acted for our initiative is the citizen’s will power and their cooperation in favour of banning plastics. We have deployed social media like facebook, twitter and whatsapp to the optimum level for engaging citizen for their feedback and opinion and taking the campaign to the grass route level. Inclusion of citizens helped us a lot in making this drive successful, as it renders them a feeling that they and there are important for the city’s welfare.

Another strategic step that added to the momentum for success of this drive is the welfare measure that we initiated for the Pouakarmika’s or Corporation staffs who are involved in cleaning, sweeping and other odd jobs. Here, we initiated a lot of welfare arrangements of Pourakarmika’s like their regular health check-ups, their breakfast arrangements etc. Even we selected a small group of Pourakarmika’s and sent them to Singapore to keep them motivated and give them a feel about how a city shall look. A combination of all this factors gelled very well and it emerged successful and thus, Mysuru been awarded for being the cleanest city in the South.

The Swachcha Sarvekshan ranking of Belgavi last year was 248 out of 485 on a national level. What measures are being taken to improve this scenario this year? Will there be more regions added in the list this year?

Last year Swachha Sarvekshan program, has rendered an impetus to Karnataka state, yielding six awards for the state including one of Mysuru and a very healthy competition is emerging between the cities in the state. In case of Belgavi, there are few important things that needs to be considered. In Belgavi, even though we have a land-fill site, the biggest problem we are facing is source segregation and door to door collection. Thus, our focus is on three primary issues, namely: how to improve the door to door and source segregations. Also, Belgavi has areas which are infamous because citizens come and dump garbage at night. The Urban Development department of the state has strategized plans to monitor this regions minutely and are coming with a concept of involving the ex-servicemen to work as a Marshall. They will be in civil suit keeping an eye on this infamous regions, and if somebody is caught resorting to this kind of activities of dumping garbage here and there, they will be fined and taken into action heavily, then and there. All this measures, if adopted and rightly observed, I am sure, this time Belgavi and other parts of Karnataka will surely rank better and be better liveable cities in the state.

I am hopeful that this year more cities from Karnataka will join the league, as we are strategizing more actions and involving our officials at ground level to monitor and examine the problems deep inside and come out with suitable solutions.

A recent report confirms that Karnataka may soon start to rank its clean cities. What has been the motivation behind this step? Would you share with us, how will this help in the long run?

 Karnataka has a long history of Municipal reforms starting from 2002. During 2010, during my tenure as the commissioner of Municipal Administration, we came up with an idea, first time in the country, of service level bench-marking- inclusive of components like solid waste management, 24X7 water supply, under-ground drainage, health indices, financial management, manpower and several others. Counting on all these components enables us to review how the urban local body (ULB) is performing on urban development index and this ranking system is going on for the last 8 to 9 years.

Now, we want to start a ranking system, very specific to solid waste management, because only solid waste management if rightly done and implemented it gives a totally different picture of the city and is the most crucial part as far as the ease of liveability is concerned. Considering from the citizen perspective, one feels motivated to walk or work on his health when the city around is clean; additionally, urban influx arriving in the city everyday also gets a good impression about the city when it is clean. Thus, it was decided on a state level high power meeting, chaired by the Chief Secretary of the state, that this concept of service level benchmarking specific to cleanliness of the city is adopted. Currently, the data is collected and we will soon start with the inter-state ranking. Though the data collected this time is over telephone, however, we are soon to adopt web-based data, which the ULB will have to feed online and the UD department officials will visit cities randomly, to authenticate the information and other authentication programs will be there validate the information provided.

What measures are being adopted by the state UD department for maintaining state of the art housing systems? How are housing systems in Karnataka different from that of many other states?

The housing schemes in Karnataka can be classified into Rural Housing Schemes and City Housing Schemes, wherein the model of both are different from each other. The state of Karnataka have exclusive agencies which were created only to address housing related issues in the state. One such agencies is Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation and their primary job is to collect data of how many people are homeless in the state, based on which we decide the target number of houses that is to be built in that specific year in the state. As far as rural area is concerned, we mostly adopt the beneficiary led system, wherein the government allocates funds to the beneficiary based on his construction plans or since the land value is relatively less, a site for construction in other case.  But, when it comes to an urban area, it is not possible for the government to offer a site for construction to the citizens, because it is very costly. Thus, in the urban areas, in smaller cities, we have adopted a system of multi-storeyed buildings not beyond 4 storey buildings, as it will require lift and other several components of maintenance, which then becomes a difficult affair. However, in Bangalore we are adopting high-rise buildings as the land here is costly and maintenance cost is relatively cheaper her. Under the Mukhya Mantri Housing Scheme, we are allotting houses to about 1 lakh citizens in Bangalore and its surrounding areas.

Another noble initiative we have come up with is introducing a new department whose job is to identify government lands and maintain a depository of information. If found that the land is illegally occupied or encroached, it is their duty to get this land vacated. In the last 3 or 4 years, Bangalore has been freed of several such encroached lands, which we are utilizing for building high-rises and allotting to beneficiaries at subsidized rate. Besides this we are also linking this system to several other government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, State government scheme and several others. Here, the state government may not have enough funds to build infrastructure in this residential high-rises. So we have recently passed an order, in which it’s been stated that the same responsibility is of the civil body under whose jurisdiction the particular area comes into.

Similarly, there is another civic body, called Slum Development Board whose focus is on rehabilitation of people residing in slums and providing them a better accommodation. However, now a lot of private builders are coming forward in housing for economically weaker section. So, we are in a stage of discussion and decision-making to give such builders a scope and concession in SAR and other matters, as government alone cannot address the issue of housing for all.

What opportunities is the state UD department exploring for solar energy in the state?

From the state perspective it is the energy department which is co-ordinating for solar energy in the rural areas of the state; and Karnataka has emerged as a leader in solar energy sector in the past few years.

However, in urban areas we need to promote usage of solar energy and conservation to attend a better level in the state perspective. In the recent Building Bye Laws, Karnataka which is applicable to all the city, if one is opting for a house which is more than a particular build up area, one has to mandatorily opt for the solar water heater. Also, if there is a garden in someone’s house, the whole lighting system of the garden will have to be based on the solar lighting system. So, now when new houses come to us for permission, these two remain as an integral component for permission and this will be mandatory to observe. The whole idea behind this measure is to ensure cheaper electricity for citizens and our dependency on fossil fuels will come down drastically. This part we are adopting for the town and country planning part.