The Swachh Survekshan—the Union government’s ranking of cities for cleanliness under the Swachh Bharat mission—this year is a study in contrasts. The two cleanest cities, Indore and Bhopal, are in Madhya Pradesh (MP), while three of the ten dirtiest (434 cities were surveyed)—including Gonda, at the absolute bottom of the list—are in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Both are big and populous states, though the density in MP is under a third that in UP. Both have low nominal per capita GSDP compared with the other states. Yet, MP has seven of the 25 cleanest cities. Last year, it had just two, Bhopal (21) and Indore (25).
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The assessment method has been changed from the last year’s—while, in 2016, the 1,000 marks were allotted for municipalities for self-assessment, 500 for independent evaluation through on-site observation and 500 for citizen feed back, this year, 900 marks were allotted for self-assessment, 500 for independent evaluation and 600 for citizen feedback. Curiously, for independent on-site observation, Indore scores lower than Mysuru (ranked 5 this year and 1 last year) and Vishakhapatnam (ranked 3 this year and 5 last year) and even Bhopal—which scores the highest—while it has much higher citizen feedback and local body self-assessment marks. Against the different parameters considered, Indore scores well above the state and national average solid waste collection & transportation, processing & disposal, being open defecation-free (though it scores lower than both the state and the national highest here), capacity building efforts and awareness campaigns and behaviour change. MP, too, scores higher than the national average on all parameters—the difference is stark for solid waste collection & transportation and open-defecation. UP, on the other hand, scores lower on all parameters, with the difference being the starkest for open defecation. The strides that MP has taken towards realising Swachh Bharat (urban) goals should be a template for UP.