In the Swachh Sarvekshan survey of 2017, Ambala was ranked 308 out of 500 cities. This poor ranking was due to the lack of segregation and handling of waste. Luckily they had not just one person, but the whole town came to the rescue of Ambala. That’s right. The government and the people of Ambala came together to fight its waste problem. The Municipal Corporation of Ambala in collaboration with Recity Network Private Limited introduced the Open Your Eyes (OYE) Ambala project. This initiative aimed to educate people to segregate waste at source so as to enable efficient disposal of waste. To its success, 60% of the waste is being segregated at source and 90% of the waste gets segregated at the collection vehicle.
As we know, citizens aren’t included in the planning and execution of services, such as sanitation and water services. There also many experts across the country who have the knowledge of how to deal with waste effectively. The challenge was to bring these experts and the people and the government together to create a solution that best fits the problem and solves the same. Segregation of waste is important as when waste is not segregated properly it gets mixed up in landfills. This waste can leak and result in toxic soup with can then contaminate the soil and groundwater.
A group of volunteers came together to kick start the project. They started off by door to door visits and interaction with the residents of Ambala to understand the pattern of waste collection across the city. While waste was collected from households, people also had multiple grievances like waste wasn’t collected regularly or the person who came to collect it wasn’t on time. They then mapped the routes through which waste was collected in the city, when they realized that almost half the waste was not collected due to lack of collection vehicles.
This problem was solved by increasing the number of collection vehicles with compartments to collect segregated waste. Households were also provided with unique ID plates that were placed outside their house. If waste was not collected, all the resident had to do was upload a picture of the ID plate on the monitoring screen of the AMC. The contractor/collector would then be fined Rs. 1000. Similarly if the resident was at fault, that is, s/he did not segregate the waste, the collector could also upload a picture of the ID plate, resulting in the resident to get fined.
While an order and structure was in place it was now time to educate the residents to gain their support. The best thing to do was to teach the children. Students in school were taught waste segregation. This enthusiastic lot went on to further teach their parents, thus spreading it across households in the town of Ambala. The waste collectors also played an important role in teaching the residents segregation. The true heroes were celebrated by the entire town. The waste workers were called Ambala Di Shaan. An anthem was made on them and it was played across the town to celebrate their efforts.
While Ambala wasn’t in a very good position like most cities in the country, they had the fire in them to change their current state. They didn’t resort only to complaining, but the whole town came together, and joined hands to fight this battle. Together they took over the challenge and showed us the power of working together. Ambala is not only one of the cleanest cities in the country today, but is also an example of the wonder we can do if citizens and the government work together for the betterment of society.
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