Shifting the pile: On inequity and Swachh citiest

News: Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs has released the results of Swachh Survekshan 2021.

What are the key takeaways of the Swachh Survekshan 2021 awards?

Read here: President of India Graces Swachh Amrit Mahotsav and Presents Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021

Ganga Towns: Varanasi has been awarded the cleanest town award along the banks of river Ganga.

Prerak Daaur Samman: It is a new category of awards that starts from 2021 and judged states on its Solid waste management. It ranked Indore, Surat, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi Municipal Council and Tirupati as ‘Divya’ (platinum).

What is the purpose of such rankings?

1) Publicity boost  2) Motivation to do better

What are the questions raised by the Swachh Survekshan survey?

The award categories have expanded manifold e.g., Separate award for States Category based on number of ULBs in the State (Above 100 and below 100); ‘Ganga City’, ‘Prerak Daaur Samman’, and ‘Population’ wise category. The expanded categories mean that more cities get awards and consequently the award process resembles an appeasement exercise.

For the last six years, almost the same cities are topping the survey. This raises legitimate questions like  (1) whether cities are actually getting motivated as intended; (2) whether some cities have better access to funds; (3) whether the States focus their funds in keeping some cities clean to avail of a rank in any of the wide number of categories; (4) Can complex problems like sanitation be reduced to simple metrics?

Thus, there should be a better analysis of the scheme to understand whether the cities are getting cleaner or the numbers are hiding inequity?

Source: This post is based on the article “Shifting the pile: On inequity and Swachh citiest” published in  The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

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