Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bidar finds it hard to retain clean tag

City attained the tag in 2010, but it’s been downhill since then

Bidar was listed as the 26th cleanest city in the country in 2010 by the Union Ministry of Urban Development. Four years later, the hill-top town is having difficulty maintaining the tag.

Roads are not swept, drains overflow and garbage is found spilling over around dustbins. Machines and vehicles for waste transport and management remain unused and the system of door-to-door waste collection seems to work only in a few of the 35 wards.

CMC’s complaints

“We don’t have enough pourakarmikas. We need to double their number,” said Fatima Anwar Ali, City Municipal Council (CMC) president. It is also true that some of them don’t work hard enough, she said.

“Pending vacancies is an issue with the Bidar CMC, as with other government agencies in this backward district on the border. But it affects us more as we are under the scanner all the time,” said Jagadish Nayak, CMC commissioner.

“We are an agency that is supposed to serve the public 24x7. We are understaffed and over-worked. If we fail to fulfil people’s expectations even for one day, they complain, Dr. Nayak said.

Council members Shashi Hosalli and M. Nabi blame the contractors who, they say, do not carry out garbage collection or transportation properly.

“We keep paying them, but they don’t perform. The council cannot go on cancelling contracts or punishing the contractors; no one will come forward to keep the city clean,” Mr. Nabi said.

Mr. Hosalli pointed out that contractors use untrained drivers and operators to run hi-tech vehicles for garbage collection and management.

“They damage the vehicles and equipment. We have no funds for their maintenance and they are lying unused now,” Mr. Hosalli said.

Residents say that the fault lies elsewhere. “Vacancies of officials are not the no. 1 problem. It is the political leadership that has failed us,” said Syed Zulfikar Hashmi, former MLA and Janata Dal (Secular) leader.

Blame game

“We elected council members to serve us. Sadly, public interest is not their priority. They are busy recovering their election expenses and in preparing for the election that is four years away,” he said.

‘Involvement of council members’

He alleged that several council members had turned contractors.

“Most of them have given contracts in the names of their family members or to bogus firms. This is why the council does not act against erring contractors,” Mr. Hashmi said.

Officials don’t rule out this possibility.

In 2011, the city sanitary inspector filed a criminal complaint saying the then council member, Ravi Swamy, and his brother assaulted him for submitting a report to the government that the garbage contractor was not doing his job properly. That was because the member’s brother had won the contract, a police officer said.

Mr. Ravi Swamy was arrested under the provisions of the Goonda Act two months ago.

In another incident in May 2013, CMC members shot down a proposal to hand over garbage collection to SHG groups, saying it would amount to injustice to the contractors.

“The authorities should stop the blame game and focus on cleanliness,” said B.G. Shetkar, convener of the district development association.Ambitious scheme

He hopes Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious scheme to clean the country in five years, might address the issue.