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|Urban sanitation goes down the drain|
|Thursday, 10 November 2011 03:41|
No city in India qualifies as clean and healthy
Source: Business Standard
The 2011 census estimates reveal that for the first time since Independence, the absolute increase in population was higher in urban areas than in rural areas. This is owing to migration, the natural increase in urban population and the inclusion of new areas under the urban category.
Though, currently, less than a third of India’s population lives in its cities, trends show that the pressure of population is going to continue unabated and urban local bodies are already hard-pressed to deal with the present situation.
There are numerous issues that need to be dealt with urgently, but one concern has been sanitation and hygiene that have deplorable levels across urban India. In October 2008, the government launched a National Urban Sanitation Policy – which focused on generating awareness, changing behaviour and ensuring adequate infrastructure of public sanitation facilities – to give guidance and support to state governments and urban local bodies. (Click here for chart)
Rating cities was chosen as one of the tools to benchmark the level of sanitation and measure the change over the years to help urban local bodies understand where the problems lie. In 2009, 423 cities were rated using a composite index based on 19 indicators on the following three fronts:
•Output indicators to measure the achievement in different dimensions of sanitation ranging from access to toilets, safe collection systems, amount of sewage and solid waste generated and treated without harm to the city’s environment and so on.
•Process indicators that evaluate the systems and procedures practiced by city agencies to ensure sustained sanitation.
•Outcome indicators, or health and environmental outcomes, measured by the quality of drinking water, quality of water resources and reduction of sanitation-induced waterborne diseases in the city over a time period.
As expected, none of the cities fell in the best category of healthy and clean cities with a rating above 90. Four cities were rated as recovering but still diseased – Chandigarh, Mysore, Surat, NDMC Delhi – while 230 were rated as needing considerable improvement and 189 fell in the lowest category requiring immediate remedial action. On overall state-wise performance, taking the median of city indices – apart from Chandigarh and Delhi that topped – Meghalaya, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu have median indices of more than 40 points. Tamil Nadu, the most urbanised state, is the only large state at the top, showing that levels of sanitation and hygiene are relatively better than other large states. At the bottom of the table, eight states have median indices of less than 30 points — Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar and Punjab.
Indian urban hygiene and sanitation levels are deplorable, not only do more than 30 million urban households (35.49 per cent of urban India) have inadequate access to sanitation facilities, but more than 37 per cent of the human excreta generated is not safely disposed of. City rankings serve to highlight the extent of the problem of which urban Indians are already well aware, yet objective benchmarks are crucial for monitoring the progress, or lack thereof, in the future.
Indian States Development Scorecard is a weekly feature by Indicus Analytics that focuses on the progress in India and the states across various socio-economic parameters.