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City of powerlooms once, now filth and stench rule
Tuesday October 28, 2014 11:07 PM, Aleem Faizee

In November 2013 while handing over the task of dumping the city wastes and garbage to a private contractor, Mayor Tahira Shaikh Rasheed had promised to convert Malegaon into Singapore. No litter will be seen anywhere from now on, and the city roads and streets will shine like the clear sky, she had asserted.

Malegaon sanitation

Six months on when Water Grace Private Ltd took over the task in its hands, clogged sewerages, bio and other wastes piling up everywhere, garbage strewn in heaps, staggered dirty water and rampant open defecation leaving almost all the open spaces and grounds filth-ridden, and a typical stench surrounding major part of the city, far from converting Malegaon into Singapore, has converted the textile city into a 'City of Filth'.

"It is more than a month from now that I had requested you to remove the garbage from the ground in front of the Kallu Kutti. The size of the garbage has doubled and pungent smell has left people dejected. But you don't show any interest to clean-up the area," Corporator Salim Anwer was heard shouting at the Chief Sanitary Officer, Govind Pradeshi, Wednesday.

Pradeshi helplessly watched as Salim Anwer complained about the poor state of sanitation in the city. Interestingly, the ground which Salim wanted to clean-up is just behind the mayor's bungalow and also has homes of three other corporators near it.

"We don't have sufficient staff and the contractor is also not doing his duty properly. We have imposed penalties on him, but he doesn't improve his services", this is what Pradeshi could only say.

Water Grace has been given a contract to dump waste and garbage for ten years from November 08, 2013 @Rs.729/metric tonne. As per the contract, it should deploy 40 tractors and 40 Ghanta-gadis for the total of 80 wards. However, till now, it has not used sufficient vehicles and ghanta-gadis.

"As of today, Water Grace is using just 24-27 tractors and as many ghanta-gadis. We had issued warnings in the past and have given him time till June first week to have the vehicles and ghanta-gadis as agreed upon in the contract", Pradeshi said.

The fault for proper sanitation and cleanliness does not lay just with Water Grace. The Corporation data shows that the civic body in itself does not have sufficient number of safai-kaamgars and cleaners.

"In1963, the city had a population of around 75 thousands and had 28 wards. Today the population has increased to 07.5 lakhs and number of wards has gone up to 80. But, number of safai-kaamgars remains the same. From 1963 till now, it is just 763", Madhavrao Nagpure, president of Municipal Kaamgar Union, said while talking to the TOI.

He said after much persuasion and appeal with the Maharashtra Minority Commission, the general body increased the number of safai-kaamgars from 763 to 1077, though the actual requirement is about 2700, but instead of filling the additional posts, the corporation hired people through a private contractor.

He alleged that due to corruption the civic authorities were not filling up the vacant posts, and the job was instead given to private contractors.

"This is due to rampant corruption which has become the hallmark of today's corporation. The contractor is being paid as per the corporation rule of minimum wages Rs.232/- per person per day but he is paying the gutter-kaamgars Rs.110/- and jhadu-kaamagars just Rs.100/-. In whose pocket the rest of money is going?" Nagpure asked.

Municipal Commissioner Ajit Jadhav admits the civic body is lacking in sufficient staff but ruled out allegations of corruption.

"Creating a vacancy and appointment on permanent posts require permission from the state government as it increases the establishment budget. We are following up with the government on the issue since last two years. We hope something positive will come out of this very soon", he said.

[The above article was published in The Times of India on May 24, 2014 - months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan.]

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