Agra’s perfomance was poor in segregation at source, cleanliness in public places, city beautification, cleanliness of drains and water bodies and garbage management
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had introduced Swachh Survekshan (cleanliness survey) in 2016 to encourage public-led cleanliness initiatives. Swachh Survekshan’s journey started with 73 cities in 2016. It now covers 4,355 cities and 62 cantonment boards.
Agra has been participating in Swachh Survekshan for the past five years. The city is well known for its petha (a soft translucent candy) and leather industries. It is also internationally known for tourist spots, including the iconic Taj Mahal.
The city has slightly improved its ranking to 23rd in 2022 from 24th in 2021. It was ranked sixth at the state level. Agra couldn’t bag any Prerak Dauur Samman. The Prerak Dauur Samman is introduced as a part of Swachh Survekshan in 2021. It aims to improve waste management in cities through perfomance-based ranking.
The award has five sub-categories — Divya (Platinum), Anupam (Gold), Ujjwal (Silver), Udit (Bronze) and Aarohi (Aspiring). It recognises the top three cities based on their performance in waste management.
The Uttar Pradesh government was able to secure only one Anupam and two Ujjwals.
The Agra Nagar Nigam (ANN) — municipal corporation of Agra city — had applied for five-star status under Garbage Free Cities (GFC) category, but it failed and the city was rated at one star. This has affected the city’s overall ranking, according to an official from ANN.
However, Agra managed to retain its previous ODF++ (open defecation free) status. The Swachh Survekshan computation evaluated scores based on — service level progress, direct observation, citizen feedback and certifications.
The total mark for Swachh Survekshan 2022 this year was 7,500. ANN scored a total of 4,441.29.The maximum mark credited under service level progress was 3,000. ANN secured 289.96 in the first quarter, 426.05 in the second quarter and 1,298.07 in the third quarter.
Agra was awarded 1,000 (600 marks for ODF++, 400 marks for GFC) of the total 2,250 marks given for certification. The city also received 1,427.22 of 2,250 marks under the category ‘citizen voice’.
The city’s performance was poor in segregation at sources, cleanliness in public places, city beautification, cleanliness of drains and water bodies, garbage management and citizen grievance redressal, according to data from the Swachh Survekshan portal.
The performance in source segregation and door-to-door collection was poor in all 100 wards of the four zones of Agra. Even the uploaded geo-tagged photos for the GFC evaluation and Swachh Survekshan assessment showed uncovered drains, unmaintained urinals and public toilets.
These can be the reasons for the city’s failure in attaining the five-star rating.
Agra’s ranking in Swachh Survekshan has been improving. However, it still needs to put efforts in breaking its highest-ranking record of 16th position, achieved in 2020.
A graph showing year-wise Swachh Survekshan ranking of Agra. Source: Ashish Kumar Chauhan, CSE.
Swachh Survekshan 2022 factsheet showed the city to be in 50 per cent-75 per cent category, which falls under ‘less satisfactory’ category.
The city will now focus on all such gaps and areas where we can score better, especially in ensuring 100 per cent in collection of segregated waste, cleaning of public and residential areas, drain cleaning and city beautification, said an ANN official to Down To Earth.
“Agra Nagar Nigam will try its level best to utilise its limited resources and human power to place Agra among the top 10 cities at the National level,” Pankaj Bhusan, an environmental engineer at ANN, told Down To Earth.
I visited Agra a few weeks before the Swachh Survekshan 2022 results were announced. There are many areas which need ANN’s attention. Door-to-door waste collection is in place, but the coverage hardly reached 60 per cent-70 per cent of households.
ANN hired two dedicated agencies for door-to-door waste segregation and awareness campaigns. But the results were not satisfactory owing to a lack of training.
ANN also hired Lion Services pvt ltd for door-to-door collection of segregated wastes. But this agency failed to perform up to the mark in the other three zones except for Tajganj zone-2.
Therefore, strict monitoring by the ANN is required to assess and improve the quality of service.
ANN authorised an agency for the effective management of bulk waste generators. It set up two facilities for dry and wet waste management. But the facilities are not commissioned yet. These plants should start their operations at the earliest.
The municipal body needs to work on citizens’ feedback mechanisms to improve its grading. ANN has a dedicated Integrated Control and Command Center (ICCC) to resolve complaints. But complaints remain unresolved. And citizens give negative feedback whenever a third-party evaluator visits the city.
The authority should efficiently utilise ICCC to adress public grievances.
ANN also needs to focus on the drainage network, especially in petha manufacturing sectors, leather footwear-making zones and densely populated areas. Drains should be appropriately covered.
It should also engage local people in transforming Agra into the Swachhtam Shahar (cleanest city) in Swachh Survekshan 2023.
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