Surat recently secured 2nd spot in the ranking of the cleanest cities of India. To add to the achievement, the city has set up solar powered primary health systems, which displays its remarkable turnaround from its early days of ‘plague’ and uncleanliness. Let us have a look at this city’s journey.
Crux of the Matter
‘Plague’ And Moving From It
Surat is a port city of Gujarat famous for its diamond industry and textile works. In 1994, the infamous plague occurred in Surat, with extreme water pollution, inadequate waste disposal and infected rats cited as the major reasons. More than 2 lakh people fled from the city. In 1995, S R Rao, who has been credited with turning around the city’s condition, became the Municipal Commissioner of the city and implemented several changes which changed the sanitary conditions of the city:
- Initiated “night cleaning and brushing of the roads and all the litter spots”.
- Penalised littering after the plague.
- Involved private sector in waste collection and treatment.
- Dismantled illegal constructions.
- Divided the city into 6 sections and granted more authority to the ‘head of planning’ of each section.
- Initiated project to cover all drains and set up ‘pay and use’ toilets in slums.
- Made officials spend a minimum of 5 hours outside their offices “in the field”, and initiated “disciplinary action” against more than 1,200 Municipal Corporation employees for their inefficient performance.
Consequently, it became one of the cleanest cities of India within a short span of the plague, with the city’s achievement of 6th rank in the 2016 Swachh Survekshan being a testimony to the turnaround. it was the 2nd cleanest city of India as per 2020 Swachh Survekshan.
- The terminal hub for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project in Surat is planned to be themed Diamond. The design is adopted from the fact that Surat is considered as India’s diamond hub.
- Swachh Survekshan is carried out by Quality Council of India. The first survey was undertaken in 2016 and covered 73 cities; by 2020 the survey had grown to cover 4242 cities and was said to be the largest cleanliness survey in the world.
- The Surat Zari Craft is a textile product of Surat, which is made from yarns of silk and cotton mixed with gold, silver or copper. The zari threads are used to make intricate designs by weaving into generally silk fabrics. Its use is extensive in textile industries and handicrafts.
- NDTV – Swachh Survekshan 2020: Gujarat’s Surat Is India’s Second Cleanest City, Here’s A Lowdown Of All the Things Done Right
- The Indian Express – Among top 10 cleanest cities, 4 from Gujarat; Surat grabs second spot
- Business Standard – Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres
- Business Insider – The world’s 10 fastest growing cities are all in India
- The Times Of India – How Surat did it: Some lessons for Bangalore
- Livemint – How Surat fought an epidemic 26 years ago
- The Print – 1994 Surat plague has many lessons for India on how to beat coronavirus