Monday, July 16, 2018

How Indore became India's cleanest city for two consecutive years!

It is rare for an Indian city to transform itself and then sustain the effort to a level where people make cleanliness a habit. Indore (a city in MP with 3.2 million population) is a case in point to prove that a great plan and greater execution can make a huge positive change.

The story of Indore's transformation made a case study in IIM-Indore. The cleanliness drive doesn't come free though. Having lived in the city before this transformation happened, I was appalled at the daily sight of cows eating up plastic from overflowing garbage dumps. This was, of course, not any different from any other Indian city. Many like me would have felt a sense of helplessness and resignation. But someone from the city took this as a challenge. I admire the industrious nature of the city in that it makes you feel at home if you take risks and go on your own instead of taking the beaten path. In this video about Indore's makeover, it is worth noting the way the drive is run financially. The municipal corporation buys plastic waste at Rs. 5/ kg and sells it at Rs. 8/ kg to road builders. With 1,000 metric tons of waste being processed every day, you can do the math...


In my last visit to the city, I was overjoyed to see the herculean task of city cleaning happening at night with a gusto reserved only for the foodies' delight at the city's Sarafa Bazaar or Chappan. I was also informed that the organic waste converted into compost was sold at Rs. 2/kg to the public to encourage greenery.

The city's municipal corporation introduced a "third bin" to dispose of sanitary and medical waste, tried public shaming on FM radio channels, set up composting units at the waste source like the large vegetable markets and painted the town red with public messages about cleanliness! A song sung by Shaan is now the city's anthem for getting the act right and is played in all the 800 plus garbage collection trucks. These trucks are cleaned daily too to give them a clean look.

All of this has had positive fallout for the city. Not unexpectedly, Indore's "Muni bonds" that debuted at NSE earlier this month were oversubscribed 1.26 times and generated more than Rs. 200 Cr. for the corporation. Market rewards a good track record.

Someday, all cities in India will follow the Indore model and transform their filth into green! And we wouldn't have to look overseas for motivating stories of change.