Under the leadership of Mr. Abhijit Bangar, Navi Mumbai was ranked 3rd in Swachh Survekshan 2020. This feat was achieved by making additional efforts rather than follow the traditional ways where the focus was usually put only on waste management. The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) decided to focus on the beautification of the city, on efforts focused towards Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities and optimum citizen engagement along with other processes like collection and segregation of waste, ban on single-use plastic, etc.

NMMC organised regular interactive IEC activities such as street plays, performances by Swachh Ambassador, flash mobs, and cleanliness drives. They also initiated a campaign with the #NischayKelaNumberPahila, which translates “we have decided to be No.1”. This initiative motived citizens to be more involved and helped the department gain support.

Though the above-mentioned steps are incredibly important, the most noticeable steps taken by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation were perhaps the ones for the beautification of the city. These beautification projects have been carried out across the city at traffic signals, crossroads, water bodies, bridges and underpasses. Artefacts have been placed in public places. And LED traffic lights are being installed to improve the aesthetics in all 111 Wards in the city.

 

TECHNOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE GO HAND-IN-HAND


Both technology and behavioural change together play a crucial role in the sanitation system. Including technology interventions in the entire sanitation chain, from waste generation to collection, transportation to treatment, and finally the safe use of this treated material, is essential. “However, technology shall not do us any good if the behavioural change is not tackled”, said Mr. Bangar. He believes that behavioural change is a critical component for improving sanitation as once the impact of ones behaviour on the environment and public health is understood by citizens, it forms the basis for a sustainable sanitation plan.

Hence, in order to increase citizen awareness and community, NMMC included a few extra elements in their IEC activities like conducting drives, competitions, use of social media as well as increased visibility through installations, paintings and posters at all public places.

In order to increase citizen engagement, they came up with unique activities such as broadcasting Swachh Radio and creating QR based Toilet Feedback systems. These initiatives further strengthened citizen involvement in the journey towards creating sustainable sanitation in the city. The NMMC has started using automation technology/apps to streamline operations, as well as advanced tools that help in reducing fraud and accelerate the whole digital transformation process. In fact, they have already implemented RFID/GPS based Garbage Vehicle and Bin Tracking System. Additionally, Septic Tank Level Sensors have been installed, which display real-time information on the waste-water level on a dashboard to help in preventing septic tanks from overflowing and also ensuring its timely cleaning and safety of staff.

LEADERSHIP THAT ENSURED SAFE SANITATION IN THE PANDEMIC


The biggest challenge faced by the NMMC during the pandemic was the task of managing COVID-related waste, such as disposable masks, used gloves, PPE kits, expired medicines, vials etc. These items were improperly disposed of and threatened to increase environmental pollution and create a serious waste management issue. “Proper management of COVID waste became essential not only for the prevention of any further transmission but also for the protection of citizens, patients and healthcare workers”, said Mr. Bangar.

To counter all the different issues various solutions were explored such as CCTV cameras being installed to prevent waste from being dumped by hospitals and regular patrolling and fines being initiated to keep a check on debris and waste dumpers. COVID waste management was implemented at hospitals, societies and also at the household level so that waste collection, transport and its treatment was done according to the guidelines issued by the Government of India.

Keeping public toilets clean is a huge task, and the challenges aggravated during the pandemic. Despite already having a robust system in place with regard to public and community toilets, the cleanliness of the same during COVID-19 was a major challenge. Since there was a massive risk of transmission there, the NMMC made efforts to sanitise them twice a day.

The efforts of the NMMC have enabled citizens in the city to have faith in its government. It garnered complete support and the encouragement from the local representatives, and has also been a huge motivation for the Corporation to keep working towards the betterment of the city and its citizens by creating a resilient and sustainable city. “The level of engagement that we were able to generate during the COVID-19 pandemic from citizens has also helped us gain more leverage with our Swachh Survekshan initiatives”, Said Bangar.

LEADERSHIP DRIVING INCLUSIVE SANITATION SERVICES



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“The NMMC has been working on developing specific targeted and tailored strategies that could reach different communities and the urban poor and meet their sanitation needs ”, said Mr. Bangar. NMMC has encouraged transgenders to come forward, participate, and contribute to various cleanliness drives and become Swachhata icons. They have played a crucial role in promoting the Swachh Bharat Mission. Rickshaw unions in different parts of Navi Mumbai have also contributed greatly towards the Swachhata Drive by promoting messages of cleanliness through posters, installing dustbins in their autos and playing a major role in sharing feedback on the cleanliness of public toilets as they are one of the biggest users of the facility.

“The ‘Zero Waste Slum’ is successfully managing waste and has also become a source of livelihood for women living in these slums who are involved in the end-to-end collection and management of waste from 250 households. The implementation of this model is being planned in other villages and slums as well”, said Mr. Bangar.

A major concern the NMMC had was regarding the safety of the sanitation workers at the frontlines. The ones who were responsible for the household collection, maintenance of toilets, and cleaning of sewer or septic tanks faced numerous challenges ranging from health to finances. To help them, extra training was provided to all the sanitation workers, and different strategies were devised for their safety. Additionally, no wage cuts were ensured for any employee if they were on leave due to COVID-19, treatment was provided free of cost for all permanent as well as contractual staff. The workers were also provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), on the spot testing, supplies, other durable equipment, etc. Sewer cameras were introduced to prescreen sewer lines, and thus eliminate the need for Safaimitras to enter sewer lines, thereby ensuring their safety.

GOING FORWARD

 


“Navi Mumbai aims to become 100% sewer connected”, said Mr. Bangar.

In Navi Mumbai, currently, there are 7 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) treating 100% of the sewage, with 490 km long sewer lines already laid down. With this strong network and STPs, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation would be able to take care of the city’s sewage till 2050. Their ultimate goal is to make the entire city septic tank-free by connecting the remaining slums and gaothans to the sewer network.

“Apart from these, we are also focusing on expanding the Zero Waste Slum model to all slum areas as it helps in a 45% reduction in the cost of collection and transportation of waste besides reducing the amount of waste reaching landfills.”, said Mr. Bangar. The NMMC had implemented Zero Waste Slums for the urban sector and had planned to extend this model to make the whole ward Zero Waste. The project aims to capacitate ward committees with technical knowledge and expertise in waste management. Doing this would help them in the planning and implementation of solutions at the local level which benefit all groups of society.

Mr. Bangar also intends to attain circular economy principles, a part of which is planned through collaboration with Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). One of the methods they’ll use for this purpose would maximise the re-use of treated wastewater in Navi Mumbai.


National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance

The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance is a collaborative body, convened in 2016 and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, working with governments and decision-makers across the country at national, state and city levels to drive safe and sustainable urban sanitation in India.

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