SUBJECT :Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 

 While Himachal became the first state in the country to impose a ban on the use of plastic bags in 2003 and earned the distinction of becoming the first open defecation free state in the country last year, not even one city of the state could find place in the list of top 25 cities in the ranking of clean cities released on the basis of Swachh Survekshan 2017 conducted by the government.

Out of the 434 cities that participated in the Swachh Survekshan, Shimla was ranked 47, while Kullu 259 and Varanasi stood 35th.

Other major cities in the list of 50 top cities, including Tiruchirappalli (6), Coimbatore (16), Kumbakonam (37), Erode in Sikkim (42) and Chas in Jammu and Kashmir (41) ranked above Shimla. However, the cities of neighboring Haryana and Punjab were behind Shimla except Chandigarh which ranked 11th in the list.

The cities were ranked on the basis of open defecation free, solid waste management, education and capacity building (45%), field inspection (25%) and citizens’ feedback (35%).

Shimla might have lost the race to be included among “Smart Cities” to Dharamsala, which was upgraded to Municipal Corporation, but is way ahead in cleanliness ranking, making a strong case for inclusion among smart cities. The latest ranking has once again raised eyebrows on the claims of Himachal being open defecation free and elimination of polythene in the state.

The ground reality of Himachal being open defecation free is also contrary to the claims and cases of open defecation are common, especially in villages and outskirts of urban habitats. “Shimla was once the number one tourist destination but false claims, indifferent attitude and failure of the Shimla Municipal Corporation and the state government is responsible for sliding in ranking,” said BJP MLA from Shimla (Urban) Suresh Bhardwaj.

Source: The Tribune