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Leading by example

Indore’s cleanest city title is not an outcome of just the administration’s catalyst but also involves an inculcated sense of self-discipline among its citizenry

Leading by example

Indore has been adjudged as the cleanest city of India consecutively for four years by the Ministry of Urban Development. During my three-day visit to the city, I observed the distinct measures taken by the Municipal Corporation that catapulted this city to become 'the cleanest city'.

Ideally speaking, a city is deemed to be genuinely clean if it fulfils the following five parameters:

100 per cent sewerage system with total recycling of treated sewage preferably for irrigation.

100 per cent solid waste management system with total recycling of waste products.

Effective drainage system coupled with water harvesting of rainfall run-off.

Paving or grassing of raw surfaces between the road edges and the building lines.

Daily sweeping of roads and streets ensuring zero spread of solid waste.

Indore fulfils all these essential parameters with the percentage varying between 80 to 95. This sanitary revolution has been brought about by the pioneering work done by two intrepid Municipal Commissioners (Manish Singh and Ashis Singh) and Mayor Malini Singh. Ashish Singh, the incumbent, visits each zone every morning to keep a check on the work of the sanitary staff.

Indore city has a population of 30 lakh people and consists of 85 wards which have been grouped into 20 zones. All the roads are being kept spick and span. Sand, dust or plastic wastes are conspicuous by their absence. This beautiful spectacle of clean roads and streets fills your heart with disbelief. You start thinking, "Can such a revolution take place in India?" I shall now describe how Indore has become the cleanest city of India.

Sweeping work

The corporation has employed 8,500 sweepers for the city, excluding the wide roads. Sweeping of the wider roads are done with the help of motorised vehicles operated by an outsourced agency. Sweeping in commercial areas is done thrice a day whereas in residential areas, it is done once. Growth of bushes of different species on the road medians gives a kaleidoscopic view. The large army of sweepers is managed by safai darogas, sanitary inspectors and health officers. Monitoring and coordination of the whole effort are handled by the control room team through an online system.

Solid waste management

470 specifically designed vehicles with three compartments have been procured to collect solid waste from the 85 wards and transport the same to ten stations. Each vehicle driver has been assigned his beat in the total collection area along with the route map. The house owner has to divide his waste into three parts – kitchen waste, dry waste and hazardous waste (pads, expired medicines, etc). The helper ensures that the house owner drops the waste in the right compartments. The vehicle carries the solid waste to its denoted transfer station and unloads the waste in respective troughs mechanically.

The hazardous waste is picked up mechanically in a capsule (a 15 ft long cylindrical drum) and transported to the incinerator located at a specific site for burning. The dry waste is compressed and picked up mechanically in the second capsule. The capsule is lifted and placed on the chassis of the vehicle and transported to the waste handling plants. Similarly, wet waste is also transported to the composting plant located by the side of dry waste handling plants located away from the city limits.

There are two dry waste handling plants each with a capacity of handling 300 tons of solid waste per day. The first plant is fully automatic and was installed and maintained by an outsourced agency – INFRA. This plant segregates the dry waste into 12 categories and converts these into bales. These bales are sent to different industries for various uses. For example, high calorific value waste is sent to the cement industry to be used as burning fuel. The second waste handling plant is maintained by the corporation on similar lines except that segregation is done manually. The compost plant converts the wet waste into manure which is purchased by the neighbouring farmers quickly at the rate of Rs 2/kg. The private agency pays Rs 1.5 crore per year to the corporation as land rent on a lease basis. The corporation has also set up a biomethanation plant of 20T capacity to generate methane gas and then produce electricity. This is how the entire solid waste of Indore is managed and converted into wealth with a very neat and clean operation. Thirteen lakh tons of solid waste had been lying in the form of a big mound before commissioning of these plants in 2017. Special machines were employed to segregate metallic waste. Remaining solid waste was pulverised and stored in the form of a sanitary landfill. It was followed by planting a lakh trees. The area is now a beautiful park.

Sewerage system

Indore has already achieved the milestone of ODF (open defecation free) city. Most of the town is covered with an efficient sewerage system. The remaining low-income residents have sanitary latrines. The total domestic sewage flow is 350 mld (million litres per day) which is treated in three STPs (sewage treatment plants) with the latest treatment technology, including tertiary treatment of chlorination. The final effluent has a BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) of 11 ppm against the requirement of 30. The treated effluent is discharged into Kanha distributary which eventually joins the Chambal river and is used for power generation and irrigation through the Rana Pratap Sagar Dam.

Drainage system

Almost the entire city is covered with an efficient drainage system. The drains do not get choked because of the absence of solid waste. The drainage network finally ends up in an outfall storm drain that discharges into the Kanha distributary. The drainage system prevents the possibility of waterlogging in any part of the city even during monsoons.

Water harvesting

A systematic campaign of providing water harvesting units to individual houses and institutional areas has been launched successfully. 15,000 households have installed water harvesting units so far and monitoring of the performance of these units is done digitally by the control room during rainy days.

Paving of streets

The surface area between the road edges and building line of houses and shops has been paved to the extent of 95 per cent along the main roads. Paving percentage varies from 75 to 95 in streets of residential areas and along the roads in outer reaches. The leftover raw surfaces are kept well consolidated and clean. Paving of these surfaces will further enhance the city.

Maintenance expenditure

The annual expenditure of the total sanitation program of Indore comes to Rs 550 crore per year which is collected from the people in the form of fixed user charges based on the plot area of buildings. People deposit the amount through an online system without any hassle.

This is how Indore has occupied the exalted position of being the cleanest city of India – thereby setting an example for the rest of the country.

Views expressed are strictly personal

Ramniwas Malik

Ramniwas Malik

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