Indore was ranked 25th in last year's survey . But the City of Holkars wasn't going to sweep this ignominy under the carpet. It responded with a massive clean-up campaign that was quirky , innovative and battle-like.
Corporation officials and staff were told to avoid taking leave until the survey was over. “Dabba gangs“ were created -kids would go around with tins, drums and canisters and make a racket on seeing someone relieving themselves in the open or littering the streets. Also called “vaanar sena“, they would snatch “lotas“ from people on their customary go-out.
The first glimmer of the crown came when Indore got an open-defecation-free tag from the PMO in January, after an intense campaign leading to 12,549 individual toilets, over 200 urinals, 190 public restrooms, 400 modular toilets and 16 mobile loos. The ODF tag added 150 Swachh points. The Indore Municipal Corporation then announced plans to participate in the cleanliness competition. The cleanliness drive had begun much earlier, with the focus on solid waste management, which had a 40% weightage in the scores.
“Roko-toko“ teams joined the hunt, fining and shaming violators on the spot. Women volunteers were given whistles and people trying to sneak out at dawn, lota in hand, often found themselves at the centre of too much attention.
IMC also launched mass awareness drives. Surprise inspections and spot fines were relentless. Heavy penalties, ranging from Rs.250 to Rs.20,000, were levied. Fear worked. People gradually stopped dumping on the roads. Even IMC employees faced expulsion or suspension if they failed to keep a Swachh date. IMC then made it mandatory for “townships“ in the city to have centralised waste treatment plants and segregate waste at source. Rs.2 crore was spent on awareness programmes, making it perhaps the most expensive cleanliness campaign.
IMC also launched an app called “Indore 311“. It was a hit -15,000 downloads in the opening days. The app enables you to organise spot collection of garbage. Initially, many did not like to be woken up by the Swachh anthem that garbage carts played on their early morning rounds. But the song caught on.