The city of Indore has made pioneering strides in its cleanliness initiative. Since 2017, it has topped the municipal performance index list among the Indian states. Crowned as the cleanest city in the country, its success is attributable to the joint efforts of the political class, the bureaucracy, civil society and the people. Its journey towards achieving this goal is quite impressive. It involves overcoming various challenges such as lack of municipal infrastructure, common waste management systems, no proper collection of waste, and no incentive for people to maintain hygiene. When Indore started working towards this in 2016, it involved many ground-level studies and tedious policy formulation. Public investment, decentralized responsibilities and mass participation formed the government’s pillars to yield the desired results. The involvement of the local communities formed the cornerstone of effective administration, bringing out great results.
The municipal officials and public representatives took upon themselves the onus to create awareness through direct interaction with the people. The power devolved to the municipal corporation of Indore allowed it to collectivise various groups and organisations in its earnest effort to curb the menace of filth. The tale of a city which left no stones unturned in its aim towards emerging as the cleanest city in India is now an inspiring model at an international level. Indore’s cleanliness model has gained recognition on a global scale and is being implemented across various countries.
What then holds in space for India?
It is a well-studied fact that the Indore cleanliness model is simple, innovative and easy to implement. Therefore it offers great lessons to learn and suggest efficient strategies for improving the status of cleanliness.
Why then do other cities not draw inspiration from it?
Obviously, the geographical conditions vary across regions, and any model cannot just be copied. But then what holds the point is that the governments need to draw lessons from successful examples, study, analyse and adapt them as per their own regional requirement. Such success stories can lay as foundational principles for any similar policy formulation.
Innovation is the key to any new development. Good governance requires any government to bring innovative techniques in any of its pursuits. For instance, the idea of waste to energy model adopted by the Indore municipal corporation, which converts tons of trash generated into usable CNG energy. Does any government need to adopt a holistic approach towards development? Cleanliness is not just about waste management but entails water, sanitation and hygiene. A lot has been done under the BJP government Swachh Bharat mission launched in 2014, but still, there is a long way to go. As per the 2020 report, India ranks 168th on the Environmental Performance Index. This projects a grim scenario and defames India’s reputation worldwide. In a country on similar grounds where one City receives International appreciation, and the country as a whole is looked down upon, it reinstates the need to table better policies. The Indore version can surely be a model to look up to, but effective governance requires power-sharing and consensus. People’s involvement in the planning process through local government is another pertinent teaching. The union government and the state governments need to adhere to the federal system of power distribution. When local people directly participate in decision making, it helps in formulating targeted and well-analysed policies. The common populace is well aware of the ground situation and their requirements as they have first-hand experience. Thus, a lot needs to be done for good governance at every stage.
(Ms. Tanvi Singal is currently majoring in Political Science and Economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, India. Her areas of interest lie in International Relations and Foreign Policy. )