Dirty tag for Darjeeling while Gangtok ranked cleanest hill town in survey

Vivek Chhetri

A survey conducted by the Union ministry of urban development has ranked Darjeeling as one of the dirtiest hill towns in the country and Gangtok, its neighbour and a competitor for the tourism pie, as the cleanest.

Garbage strewn near Darjeeling's Chowrasta on Sunday and (below) Gangtok seen from the Lal Market area on Sunday. Pictures by Suman Tamang and by Prabin Khaling
Garbage strewn near Darjeeling’s Chowrasta on Sunday and (below) Gangtok seen from the
Lal Market area on Sunday. Pictures by Suman Tamang and by Prabin Khaling

The Swachh Bharat survey covered 476 towns and cities with a population of more than one lakh and ranked them.

While Darjeeling ranks 129, Gangtok is 10th in the list.

The top 10 places according to a Press Information Bureau release are Mysore, Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Navi Mumbai, Kochi (Kerala), Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru from Karnataka, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Halisahar (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim) in that order.

Other hill towns ranked above Darjeeling include Aizawl (35), Dimapur (76), Imphal (83), Shimla (90) and Shillong (120). Srinagar has got the 152th position.

Among state capitals, Bengaluru leads the list at the 7th position and Bihar capital Patna is at the bottom at 429. Calcutta has been ranked at 56. In the list, Damoh (Madhya Pradesh) is at the bottom at 476.

According to the official release, the survey conducted in 2014-15 was commissioned under the National Sanitation Policy of 2008.

“The Swachh Bharat rankings are based on a total of 42 marks, including 20 for open defecation indicators and 22 for solid waste management indicators,” the release states.

Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of Darjeeling municipality, today said: “I was not aware of the survey but came across the results. It is true that the overall civic discipline in Gangtok is much better than Darjeeling but it will be unfair to compare as Gangtok is a state capital. The survey is not complete and we hope to do much better. But for that everyone must join hands.”

Rai was referring to a government statement that said over all rankings based on a total of 100 marks would be announced later.

While open defecation is uncommon in Darjeeling, the solid waste management system is in a shambles. Garbage is collected from vats across town and thrown down a dumping chute into a stream. Some trash is burnt in the open.

“The state has approved a Rs 14 crore solid waste management project. After the project is completed, things are expected to improve in the hills,” Rai said. The project will involve setting up a bio-gas plant and segregating waste.

Darjeeling generates about 35 metric tonne of waste daily and the figure is almost double in the tourist season. The municipality can clear about 30 metric tonne waste everyday.

In Gangtok, waste is collected from the doorsteps and dumped at Marchak, 18km from the town. It is segregated and treated at the plant. It is mandatory for all shops in town to have two dustbins outside.

Shailendra Chhetri, Darjeeling municipal commissioner in-charge of conservancy, said: “Since July, we have started cleaning drains. We have a total of 65km of drains in the civic area.”

Source – Telegraph

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