Swachh Bharat in Modi’s Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have launched ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ with much fanfare but his constituency, Varanasi, find itself in the bottom when it comes to its implementation.

On the contrary, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli had fared better than Varanasi and is way ahead though much improvement is needed.

The holy city of Varanasi has been ranked a lowly 418 among 476 towns surveyed by Union Urban Development Ministry for studying the success of the campaign.

The towns were surveyed on total sanitation practices covering a set of parameters including the extent of open defecation and solid waste management.

According to the survey, the extent of open defacation in Varanasi is high with the study giving just 3.38 out of 20 marks. On sewage waste management too , the city was not impressive as it bagged only 6.11 out of 22 marks. Altogether, Varanasi got 9.49 out of total 42 marks.

However, Rae Bareli, which was ranked 240, was far ahead on these parameters compared to Varanasi. The marks on open defecation was 4.38 while on sewage management, it was way ahead of Varanasi with 10.93. Rae Bareli’s total was 15.30.

Even the performance of his cabinet colleague Sushma Swaraj’s Vidisha constituency, which was ranked 312, was better compared to Varanasi. It had a cumulative score of 13.23.

The scores of these VIP constituencies showed that open defecation still remained an issue, which has to be tackled.

Modi had launched the ‘Clean India’ campaign on Gandhi Jayanthi last year with an aim to eliminate open defecation and eradicate manual scavenging besides building 6.12 crore toilets and achieve scientific solid waste management in 4041 cities and towns for 30.6 crore persons.

Launching the programme, the Prime Minister invited cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and industrialist Anil Ambani among others on social media to join the campaign on the lines of ice bucket challenge to popularise Clean India campaign.

Constituency – Open Defecation – Sewage Management – Total – Rank

Rae Bareli – 4.38 – 10.93 – 15.30 – 240

Varanasi – 3.38 – 6.11 – 9.49 – 418

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 9, 2015)

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