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Indian Cities: The Cleanest, Greenest and Dirtiest

Indian Cities: Cleanest & DirtiestWhile the Indian scenario looks most gloomy from the point of view of an environmentalist, it’s not all bad news where pollution and sanitation issues are concerned. There are a few Indian cities which are inching towards being “green” and others that are in the process of implementing required changes which would make them contenders for the ‘Nirmal Shahar’ Award.

In 2009, in order to sensitize administration and citizens of Indian cities about their current state of sanitation and to raise awareness about the need for improvement, the Government of India commissioned Ministry of Urban Development to launch a biennial (every two years) exercise – ‘National Rating of Class 1 Cities’ – on the basis of sanitation.

The rating exercise was conducted between December 2009 and April 2010 by three agencies – AC Nielsen ORG MARG, Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) and Development Research Services (DRS), and their first report was released in May 2010. This rating was a part of National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) aimed to make Indian cities and towns ‘totally sanitized’, healthy and livable, i.e., they become ‘Nirmal Shahars’.

Totally Sanitized City

A totally sanitized city means a city that –

  • Eliminates the practice of manual scavenging and provides adequate personnel protection equipment for ensuring safety of sanitation workers.
  • Safely collects, treats, and disposes all wastewater.
  • Implements, wherever possible, the recycling and/or reuse of treated wastewater for non-potable purposes.
  • Safely collects, treats and disposes all solid waste.
  • Provides sustainable sanitation services for poor people.

The study rated 423 cities (with population greater than 100,000) for their performance across the above-mentioned aspects of sanitation. This was measured through indicators that included physical infrastructure, systems, processes, and outcomes related to achievement of total sanitation.

The intention of the rating was to help cities prioritize sanitation and foster healthy competition, motivating them to improve upon their sanitation.

All Class I cities in the country were covered under this rating exercise. Incidentally, Class I cities house 207 million people, or 72%, of India’s total urban population.

All the Cities were rated on 19 indicators adding to a total of 100 points based on a common methodology. The indicators were divided into three main categories: Output, Process, and Outcomes indicators:

  • Output Indicators: These refer to the city having achieved certain results/outputs in different dimensions of sanitation, like access to toilets, safe collection systems, amount of sewage and solid waste that is generated and treated without harm to the city’s environment, etc. There are nine output indicators and they account for 50 points.
  • Process Indicators: These refer to systems and procedures that exist and are practiced by city agencies to ensure sustained sanitation. These include setting up appropriate monitoring and evaluation systems, compliance with Management of Solid Waste Rules, 2000, etc. There are seven process indicators and they account for 30 points.
  • Outcome Indicators: These include health and environmental outcomes, measured as the quality of drinking water, quality of water resources in the city, and reduction of sanitation-induced water-borne diseases in the city over a time period. There are three outcome indicators and they account for 20 points.

Since comprehensive data for each indicator was not readily available, the rating agencies used a combination of published information and data available with the city. All the data collected, cross-checked and validated was then presented to respective city for verification. Cities counter-signed the data to ensure that they were aware of the baseline data collected and ensured ownership of the data.

The cities, scored on 100 points, were categorized into four color categories – red, black, blue or green – depending on the marks they scored in the rating exercise. Each color code was associated with the state of sanitation of the city.

The city that received less than 33 points was rated as a ‘red’ city (“needing immediate remedial action”) and required immediate attention. The city receiving more than 91 points was rated a ‘green’ city and was considered a “healthy and clean” city. In the same way, the cities that got between 67 and 90 points were considered ‘blue’ (“recovering but still diseased”), while the cities that got from 34 to 66 points were considered ‘black’ (“needing considerable improvements”). (See Table 1 below)

Table 1: City Color Codes and Their Categories

Indian Cities: The Cleanest, Greenest and Dirtiest


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