Former State Safai Karmachari Commission Chairman Narayan highlights the problem within MCC
Mysuru, once celebrated for earning the country’s cleanest city tag in both 2015 and 2016, has experienced a notable decline, now ranking at a disappointing 27th position. This downturn has left the city residents disheartened, with both the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and the citizens sharing responsibility for the city’s diminished standing.
In light of this situation, Star of Mysore engaged in a conversation with former Mayor Narayan, also a former Chairman of the Karnataka State Safai Karmachari Commission, seeking his insights on restoring the city to its former top position in the Swachh Surveskhan rankings. Excerpts:
By S.B. Devaraj
Star of Mysore (SOM): The presence of heaps of garbage is evident throughout the city despite the existence of a waste collection system. What is your reaction to this?
Narayan: Every individual bears the responsibility of upholding the city’s cleanliness. The initial step involves segregating dry and wet waste in every household. Regrettably, this practice is not gaining traction as anticipated. Pourakarmikas, responsible for door-to-door waste collection, refuse to collect non-segregated waste.
Subsequently, residents of such homes place their waste in plastic covers, leading to indiscriminate disposal. Public awareness regarding environmental conservation is crucial. Citizens should conscientiously separate waste into two distinct buckets of different colours (red and green), facilitating easier waste disposal.
SOM: How do you interpret Mysuru’s declining rankings each year after securing the cleanest city title for two consecutive years in the last decade?
Narayan: In my view, the primary cause behind Mysuru’s dwindling performance in the Swachh Survekshan Clean City rankings is the administrative lapses of the MCC. Cleanliness issues exacerbate after the completion of the Corporators’ tenure. There is a lack of teamwork within the MCC and the cleanliness activities lack proper coordination.
Despite the commendable efforts of the Pourakarmikas, an effective administrative system and public cooperation are equally essential. It is disheartening to note the lack of substantial progress in Solid Waste Management. Additionally, there seems to be a diminished public interest in survey participation. The combination of these factors may have contributed to Mysuru’s descent to the 27th place in the Swachh Survekshan rankings.
SOM: Have you succeeded in raising public awareness about administrative failures?
Narayan: The MCC Commissioner and Health Officials must collaborate and maintain consistent communication with the public. Contractors, environmental engineers, Health Inspectors and other top officials should be responsible for monitoring at various levels.
Unfortunately, the current system lacks coordination, reaching a point where mutual disregard is pervasive. Previously, Corporators used to oversee Pourakarmikas’ attendance and proactively address issues on the spot. With the absence of an elected body, MCC officials must now assume this responsibility and urgently address concerns.
SOM: What is your assessment of the current waste disposal situation?
Narayan: A few years ago, the city’s daily waste collection stood at 200 tonnes. Presently, the daily waste generation has increased to 250 tons due to a surge in household, industrial, commercial and biowastes. It is disheartening to observe the mixing of medical waste with other categories. While waste generation continues to rise, the number of Pourakarmikas is decreasing. Moreover, there is no ongoing recruitment of new Pourakarmikas, leading to an escalating workload for the existing workforce and exacerbating the existing problems.
SOM: Could entrusting the responsibility of waste management to Pourakarmikas lead to an improvement in waste disposal?
Narayan: Yes, assigning the responsibility of waste management to those directly handling the waste could result in improvement. Primarily, there is a need to appoint a greater number of Pourakarmikas.
Environmental Engineers also play a crucial role in waste management and they should take this responsibility seriously, making concerted efforts to address the ongoing waste disposal challenges stemming from various factors.
SOM: Lastly, what are your recommendations for preserving the city’s environment?
Narayan: Firstly, there should be an increase in the number of appointed Pourakarmikas to manage the growing quantity of waste. Officials need to coordinate and initiate extensive campaigns to raise public awareness. The responsibility for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the city is equally shared by citizens and the MCC.
Public awareness campaigns should stress the importance of waste segregation at the source in households and discourage indiscriminate waste disposal. Penalties should be imposed on irresponsible citizens. In countries like Singapore and China, even young children are educated on cleanliness maintenance, leading to disciplined waste disposal. Similarly, our children should be instilled with such discipline.
Additionally, cleanliness education should be included in the school curriculum. Overall, every citizen plays a crucial role in keeping the city clean. MCC officials should be receptive to valuable suggestions from any source and incorporate them into their work culture.