How Lonavala outsmarted Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad on cleanliness front

While Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad were judged on the basis of 10-lakh plus population, Lonavala figured in the 50,000 to one lakh population and less than one lakh population categories.

The popular hill station of Lonavala, located equidistant between Pune and Mumbai, continues to outsmart Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad on the cleanliness front. While Lonavala took the second spot in Swachh Survekshan 2021, Pune city came fifth and Pimpri-Chinchwad improved its ranking to bag the 19th spot.

“In 2018, we bagged the seventh spot. After this, in 2019, we stood second. In 2020, we dropped to the third place and have now again bagged the second spot across the country,” said Somnath Jadhav, the CEO of Lonavala Municipal Council (LMC).

“In fact, in the category of less than one lakh population, Lonavala city has bagged the second prize while in the category of 50,000 to one lakh population, Lonavala has stood first, gaining 4,942 points among 455 cities,” he said.

While Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad were judged on the basis of 10-lakh plus population, Lonavala figured in the 50,000 to one lakh population and less than one lakh population categories.

At the function held in New Delhi on Saturday, a team from Lonavala civic body including corporators, council president and the CEO received the award and the prize money of Rs 10 crore. Council president Surekha Jadhav received the award from President Ramnath Kovind. Union Housing and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and other officials were also present on the occasion. Lonavala council vice-president Suvarna Alolkar, health committee chief Rachna Sinkar, corporators Shridhar Pujari, Raju Bachche, Devidad Kadu, Nitin Agarwal and Pramod Gaikwad, among others, were present. “This award has been possible because of the support of the people of Lonavala and various social and voluntary organisations,” the council president said.

So, what makes Lonavala consistently stand out when it comes to the cleanliness aspect, not just in Pune district but also in Maharashtra?

The answer, the CEO said, “lies in the consistent and concerted efforts to keep the city clean. Be it on the garbage front which includes segregation, processing and disposal of garbage, setting up an adequate number of toilets and the overall condition of sanitation.”

“Lonavala is a popular tourist place in Maharashtra. The population of the city is around 60,000 and the floating population is 25,000 and in the rainy and winter seasons, it reaches around 1,00,00,” Jadhav said. On Saturdays and Sundays, Lonavala is choc-a-block with tourists from Pune and Mumbai who visit the hill station to soak in the cool environs, primarily during the monsoon when the incessant drizzle, cloud-draped hills and shimmering waterfalls are the major attractions.

The employees of the LMC carry out cleanliness operations in residential wards once in a day and commercial and public areas twice a day, officials said.

“We have installed lid-covered twin bins in commercial, public and tourist areas. The bins are meant for collecting wet and dry garbage. We impose fines on people found littering the roads,” Jadhav said.

The LMC collects segregated waste from all residential and commercial properties of the 12 wards with the help of 24 specially designed garbage-collection vehicles.

“Citizens have been told to segregate their waste, which is then transported by our vehicles to the solid waste processing centre at Varsoli. The wet waste is processed in compost pits and the compost generated is used for farming and gardening and is available for all at low rates. The wet waste is also processed to generate electricity and powers all the street lights of the SWM plant,” Jadhav said.

The dry waste is further segregated by integrated rag pickers and sold to scrap vendors and the sanitary waste is incinerated by incineration machines, the official added.

There are some 32 community toilets and eight public toilets in Lonavala with 460 seating blocks, making it an open-defecation free city. “Community toilets are used by residents of a particular locality, while public toilets are open to all,” officials said.

“The council religiously sticks to its idea of reduce, reuse and recycle. We have crafted beautiful structures from waste materials… cloth bags from old sarees, bird feeders and hanging tree gardens from old bottles and tyres,” Jadhav said.

For the hotels and RWAs, which generate more than 50 kg waste daily, it is compulsory to carry out on-site waste processing. “All those hotels and RWAs process their wet waste in compost pits or in organic waste converters,” Jadhav said.

The LMC also carries out desludging of each septic tank once in every three years, besides using treated sewage water for irrigation purposes.

The civic body has installed water fountains in all wards and those are being run with treated water from sewage treatment plants. The civic body has, however, lost points on the STP front. “We have the capacity of treating only six MLD waste daily. We have to improve on this front,” Jadhav said.

Every week, the civic body conducts cleanliness drives in different locations and the residents and the NGOs enthusiastically participate in those drives.

“We also organize IEC activities and capacity-building programmes for waste segregation…The civic body conducts various programmes for disseminating awareness on cleanliness through movies, jingles, poster competitions and so on,” Jadhav said.

Notably, the civic body has also set up a ‘special war room’ for the implementation of cleanliness programmes.

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