Thursday, March 10, 2011


We still lack delivery of proper civic amenities

The significance of civic amenities can be traced back to Indus valley civilisation. It was during the Harappan and the Mohenjodaro civilisations that the concept of civic amenities saw a new dimension. These ancient civilisations not only focussed on hygiene and cleanliness but also had a very scientific way of keeping their cities clean. Even today urban planners refer back to these architectural styles to take a lesson or two for modern sewage and drainage system. But then, with time — especially in a country like ours, owing to huge population pressure and almost defunct city planning — the whole idea of adequate civil amenities has taken a back seat.

Fundamentally, the task of providing civic amenities lies with municipal bodies. Today it is this body that is responsible for providing all kinds of amenities to the citizens ranging from water supply and sanitation to arranging for the disposal of solid waste and the maintenance of burial grounds and crematoriums. However, even aft er six decades of independence and series of city developmental plans, our municipal bodies have failed to provide us with clean surroundings.

A walk down any street in any up market area even in a big metro such as Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata would give one a fair idea about the 'filthy' state of hygiene. So much so that one can find dumping yards popping up in the middle of the city. In the Capital itself, it won’t be tedious to locate garbage lying uncovered even in the vicinity of most expensive, sophisticated and the so-called posh areas.

And mind you, that's the state of our metro cities. If we move around in smaller cities, the situation is appalling! As such there are around 700 million people who do not have access to lavatories and around 43 per cent of urban dwellers lack system for proper disposal of sewage. Talking about solid waste, it is estimated that on an average India produces around 40-45 million tons of urban solid waste annually — which boils down to 0.6 kg per day per person. However, our municipal corporation manages to collect merely 0.4 kg per person per day of solid waste. Surveys found that of the total 300 tier-I cities, around 70 cities have partial sewage treatment facilities. Further, out of the total combined waste water generated in the four metro cities, merely 30 per cent is treated before disposal.

This is in spite of the fact that the uncollected solid waste largely becomes a breeding hub for germs and insects which eventually create health hazards in the vicinity. Many diseases like chikungunya and cholera (which were written-off years back by health experts), have seen a blockbuster comeback, and it can be largely attributed to the state's failure to provide better civic amenities. Besides, in most of the Indian cities, large quantities of potable water is wasted while the waste water treatment is still an alien concept.

And it is not that there has been a shortage of funds. Take for instance the Rajasthan Government that has received around Rs 200 crore for civic amenities in the slum colonies but managed to spend only Rs.125 crore. Similar are the cases with a few other states including Haryana and West Bengal. Development and modernisation of cities is not only confined to malls, theatres and a few gated residential complexes, but is measured by a yardstick that counts every dimension which affects human life. Without any apprehension, it is the municipal corporation that can change a city from “Slumdog Millionaire” to “Shanghai Dreams.”



  1. This is where We as an Indian are not proud of. We keep our house clean but will not bother to put the garbage in the dustbin simply because there is no dustbin at all. This is where all the talk fails to implement anything. The Govt. bodies responsible for maintaining the necessary infrastructure are not doing their jobs honestly. If we didn't like the portrayal of Our country in the Slum dog it is on our hands to seriously do something to wash this spot from our forehead.

    This article is enough to prove that where we stand & Why everyone wants to run out of their country and dreams about living in western world.

  2. Dear Sir,
    A real mindblowing article.Around 65% of rural households have no sanitation facility, while the corresponding figure for urban areas is 11%

    Haphazard construction and lack of planned civic amenities often cause great inconvenience to the population. In this context, it is important to follow systematic urban planning and proper urban governance. Every citizen should have access to basic services and livable habitats.

    There should be Compulsory implementation of Sanitation Laws and improvement of linkages of private drains .Creation of more Portable Stink Free State of the Art Coin Operated Toilets.

    Solid Waste Mgt is among the most poorly rendered services in the basket--the systems applied are unscientific, outdated and inefficient; population coverage is low; and the poor are marginalized. Waste is littered all over leading to insanitary living conditions.

    Some more Drawbacks of the present system:
    -No storage of waste at source
    -No system of primary collection from doorsteps
    -Irregular street sweeping
    -Waste storage depots have been a problem
    -Transportation of waste is not satisfactory
    -Processing of waste: only a few cities have been practicing this
    -Disposal of waste is a neglected area of SWM services and the current practices are grossly unscientific .

    Efforts should be made to create community awareness, either about the likely perils due to poor waste management or the simple steps that every citizen can take, which will help in reducing waste generation and promote effective management of solid waste generated.

    Dr.Rachna Bohrey

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