The much a talked about Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), launched by Prime Minister Narider Modi has failed to even take off in Srinagar City as the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), has miserably failed to implement the scheme.
Importantly, the failure of the SBM has brought the City on the sanitation radar as the sanitation in Srinagar city is ranked much below Leh and other cities and towns of the state.
According to the Swachh Survekshan 2017 rankings, released by the Union urban development ministry in first week of May, Srinagar was put at 141 rank, much below than Leh which was spotted in top hundred cleanest cities of India.
The implementation of SBM in the summer capital of the state has failed to provide any desirable results. It is not implemented in the city in the first place. However, insiders in the SMC revealed that the top officials in the Corporation did some photo ops just to hog media headlines.
“The SBM has not moved beyond that,” they maintained.
According to the data provided by the SMC officials, the organization’s media wing has spend around 15 lakh rupees for the information and advertising on SBM this year alone.
SBM’s central website states that only 40 percent of funds have been utilized by the concerned agencies in the Srinagar city for the Information, Education and Behaviour Change Communication (IEBC) activity.
“While the Srinagar Municipal Corporation was supposed to spend the amount on the Public awareness, little has been done to implement it on the ground. Only two to three hoardings have been installed by the SMC to spread the awareness about SBM,” the insiders revealed.
“We have done lots of work in the awareness component of the SBM. We have placed hoardings in the city. We are going to organize awareness progammes in the schools as well,” said Masrat Yusuf, media officer at the SMC.
“We are constantly using radio services to inform the public about the cleanness mission,” she added.
Notably, barring few radio commercials and few hoardings in the outskirts of the city, SMC have not organized any information programme on the cleanness mission, which is supposed to end in Oct 2019.
Pertinently, when the SMC began to implement the SBM in the year 2014, it received around 18448 applications for the household toilets from the residents of the city. Officials at the SMC approved 4443 applications after ‘thoroughly scrutinizing’ the applications and 600 applications were rejected outrightly.
“We rejected 600 applications based on the three-tier verification system done by the SMC officials,” says javaid Ahmad, an official at the SMC headquarters.
Ironically, the corporation received about 211.60 lakh funds for the individual household toilets when the SBM was launched in 2014. However, according to sources not a single penny has been utilized till date.
According to the officials, only 97 household toilet points were referred to the agencies for their constructions.
However, none of the 97 household toilets approved by the SMC officials were completed in the three and a half years.
The SMC had outsourced the construction of toilets to seven Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and most of them did not complete the work citing the rate and tax differences in the Srinagar and other cities of the India.
Only one NGO, Yougentra, which took a contract, through its local NGO partner, Helpers of Humanity, for the construction of 77 toilets in Noorbagh area of the city is currently in the process of completing the project. However, the NGO has already missed the two deadlines for the completion of the project.
Pertinently, two Community toilets were approved by the officials in the city in Saraibala and Rambagh area, but again the projects are yet to be completed.
“The SMC’s failure in implementing the SBM should be exposed so that the lethargic attitude of the officials working there is exposed,” said Khursheed Ahmad, a social activist.
He said that the SMC has failed to deliver even as only 14 percent of the population in the city require individual household toilets, while the rest of the 86 percent of the residents already posses a toilet in their houses.
Meanwhile, despite repeated phone calls SMC, commissioner Dr. Shafqat Khan was not available for comment.