Bizarre? Top 5 In UNEP Rankings, Kerala's Alappuzha Ranked 380 In Swachh Survekshan

| December 5 , 2017 , 16:14 IST

Caring for the environment, maintaining cleanliness and preventing pollution is important at city, state, nation and a global level, however, the ways of measuring the success of a city in terms of cleanliness and waste management differs.

The city of Alappuzha in Kerala, a famous tourist destination hailed as the 'Venice of the East', was one of the 5 cities highlighted by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2017 for its approach to waste management and beating pollution. The very same city of Alappuzha in Kerala was ranked 380 on the central government's Swachh Survekshan survey of 2017.

UNEP Ranking

In a report on 'Solid Approach To Waste: How 5 Cities Are Beating Pollution' the UN Environment detailed on how 5 cities were tackling the problem of solid waste, which if not dealt with properly can go on to pollute the air and water as well. The 5 cities that UN Environment praised are Osaka in Japan, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Penang in Malaysia, Cajicá in Colombia and Alappuzha in India.

"Getting a grip on the mountains of solid waste produced by humanity is central to the Assembly’s goal of moving Earth “towards a pollution-free planet”. After all, poorly contaminated rubbish contaminates our air, water and soil, and represents a colossal waste of the planet’s finite resources," the report said.

Alappuzha managed the feat by decentralising the solid waste management of the city. While other cities were piling up solid waste in landfills, the city of Alappuzha conducted large-scale awareness drives and set up waste segregation centers at the residential level. Aerobic composting bins were set up for the disposal of wet waste and other waste was recycled.

Over a period of 3 years, the city has managed to reduce the number of landfills to nil.

Municipal Commissioner of Alappuzha Municipality, Thomas Joseph dedicated the recognition by the UN to the residents, adding that source segregation is an answer to all garbage problems.

“We are very happy and proud to have been featured in the top 5 cities with excellent waste management systems. It doesn’t matter how big or small a municipal body and the region is, if source segregation is implemented properly than the problem can be solved quickly. And source segregation is only possible when the citizens are fully aware of its consequences,” said Joseph.

Swachh Survekshan 2017

The Swachh Survekshan survey meanwhile, ranked Indore, Bhopal, Visakhapatnam, Surat and Mysuru as the top 5, with Kerala's Alappuzha ranking at a lowly 380 rank from out of the 500 Indian cities that were under consideration.

While Surat dumps 1,600 tonnes of unsegregated, unprocessed garbage in a landfill every day was ranked 4th by Swachh Survekshan, Alappuzha which has taken a decentralised approach to dumping solid waste was ranked lower.

The Swachh Survekshan survey evaluated 500 cities on the basis of 5 criterions, waste collection, sweeping and transportation for 40 percent, municipal solid waste processing and for 20 percent, open defecation free/toilets for 30 percent, information, education and behaviour change for 5 percent and capacity building-SBM eLearning portal for 5 percent.

Although managing waste and centralising it to a specific location or landfill is an organised method to dealing with solid waste, the waste simply accumulates before it is processed or destroyed. In comparison, as per the model adopted by Alappuzha, which decentralises waste management bringing it to a household level, focusing on segregation, recycling and reuse, the solid waste is prevented from accumulation itself.