Corporations lack clarity on Swachh Bharat cess fund usage

Most city corporations in the dark about the usage of funds under the Swachh Bharat cess
With close to Rs 6,900 crore worth revenue collected through the Swachh Bharat cess, many city corporations across the country still remain in the dark regarding the usage of these funds. Lack of accountability and systemic inefficiencies have been cited as reasons behind non-utilisation of funds by municipal bodies as most are unaware of how to access the available funds. While the construction of public and private latrines has been subsidised through the Swachh Bharat Mission, citizens feel that maintenance of the constructed toilets need to be accorded top priority and hence, more funds need to be allocated for the operation and maintenance activities.

Toilets remain a distant dream in Mumbai’s Damu Nagar slum
Residents of Mumbai’s suburban Damu Nagar slum are oblivious to the fact that their city has been declared 'open defecation free’ as relieving themselves out in the open is the everyday reality of most slum dwellers in the city. With just a single ill-maintained public latrine complex in the whole of Damu Nagar, residents pick dilapidated factory premises and nearby thickets to relieve themselves. The location of the toilet is also problematic as residents have to walk down a hill for 20 minutes to reach the complex. The area was affected badly by a fire that broke out following an explosion of LPG cylinders in the area in December 2015.

Ranchi inaugurates modular toilets right in time for Swachh Survekshan
The Ranchi municipal corporation decided to inaugurate 32 modular public toilets it had constructed just before the Swachh Survekshan team arrived in the city on January 20. These public toilets will be operated and maintained by private contractors. The corporation had initially pledged to construct 80 community toilets, one of the key elements in ensuring public cleanliness and elimination of open defecation. Sanitation NGO Sulabh has also been involved in renovating and cleaning up broken down public toilets in the city.

Biomedical and hazardous waste sold at Kolkata's open market despite regulations
Despite strict regulations in place regarding the handling and disposal of biomedical and hazardous waste, officials in Kolkata have unearthed a racket involving the recycling and sale of such materials in the open market. In December, the Kolkata municipal corporation conducted raids in premises which resembled makeshift medicine stores which turned out to be illegal dens for stocking recycled hazardous biomedical waste including needles, syringes, scalpels and gloves. Six truckloads of recovered waste were later transported by the corporation to the nearby Dhapa dumping ground.

This is a roundup of important sanitation related news published between January 14 and 20, 2016.

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