Mr. Kishore, a graduate in computer science from SRM University, hails from Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh. Raised by parents working as public servants in the government, Mr. Kishore grew up with a passion to work in this sector. His desire to make a substantial contribution to society and bring change in the lives of people motivated him to become an IAS officer. His first posting was in Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) as a sub-collector in the Chintoor region of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. The Chintoor region was formed after the bifurcation of the state and he was one of the first officers posted there. As a result, he had to set up whole new systems, offices, and entire infrastructure, further driving his journey into the leadership role.

In September 2019, Mr. Kishore joined Rajamahendravaram Municipal Corporation (RMC) as Municipal Commissioner. Rajamahendravaram, also known as Rajahmundry, is a well-organised city and has a lot of built-in services. RMC became a municipal corporation in 1994 and is counted as one of the oldest municipalities in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The city has been served by numerous dynamic IAS officers, resulting in continuity and sustainability of city development. Mr. Kishore built on the foundational work completed by his previous officers.

Due to the efforts of the municipal officials in solid waste management, liquid waste management, and worker safety & well-being, when it comes to sanitation, the city has come a long way in the past 5 years. These efforts were guided by well-thought-out Government Orders (GOs).

Some of the gaps which were identified by Mr. Kishore when he started working with RMC were optimal utilisation of resources, mechanisation of sanitation work, and scientific disposal of waste. He started working towards achieving these and to make the city one among the top 10 in Swachh Survekshan ranking.


DID YOU KNOW?

Rajahmundry achieved progress over the last few years with a ranking of above 100 in Swachh Survekshan in the year 2018 and then secured the 51st rank in the year 2020. In 2021, the city achieved ODF++ (open defecation free) certification and is expecting the Garbage Free City (GFC) 3 star.


LEADERSHIP ENSURING EFFECTIVE SANITATION APPROACHES

In 2020-21, numerous Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns have been carried out by the RMC and as a result, the citizens have understood that sanitation is a priority for the Corporation. The citizens living in the city feel good about the fact that a government officer interacts with them at their doorstep to hear feedback and understand their requirements. This has contributed to tremendous trust-building between the citizens and the corporation.

"We have an army of young cadets in the form of ward secretaries for environment and sanitation who are government employees. Each secretary is in charge of 1000 households and is supported by 10 Ward Volunteers for communication about all the services and schemes by the State Government as well as ensuring proper service delivery by the municipal corporation. This unique system introduced in Andhra Pradesh is serving the citizens well and is particularly effective for communication at an individual level", said Mr. Kishore.

One of the IEC campaigns was on the scheduled desludging of septic tanks. As part of this interesting initiative, a sticker was placed on every property. This sticker carried information on the last date when the septic tank was cleaned and also when it is next scheduled for cleaning. This campaign also led to an increased awareness about desludging and boosted desludging activity.

"We have centralised the septic tank cleaning services in the city. No one else in the city can offer this service to citizens, except for the Corporation. Citizens used to find it very hard to get septic tank cleaning services that followed proper procedures. The Municipality recognised this concern and decided to provide this service at reasonable prices", said Mr. Kishore.

To understand the ground realities and to come up with a proper plan, several stakeholder meetings were conducted. Tariff structure was also decided i.e., ₹₹2000 per tank irrespective of the size. In addition to this, the Municipality and existing operators entered into an agreement and formed an association. Additionally, GPS has been installed in all the vehicles which allows for real-time monitoring.

HOW DOES THIS MODEL WORK?

  1. A command control room was set up with a 24/7 helpline number.
  2. Any citizen who wants the septic tank to get cleaned could either call the secretariat or visit the website, or even use the mobile app to place the request.
  3. The Ward Secretary for sanitation would then visit the place to assess the requirements and generate the ticket.
  4. Post this, the Ward Secretary can call the operator directly or request the control room for the assignment of a desludging vehicle.
  5. Payment is then collected by the municipality. Out of ₹2000 collected, ₹1900 is paid to the operators and ₹100 is the service fee for the Municipal Corporation.
  6. A penalty of Rs.5000 is imposed for desludgers outside of the association.

This model is well appreciated by the citizens, operators and at the state level. Further, many other municipal corporations are planning to replicate this model.

For the treatment of collected waste, the city had established a co-treatment facility at the existing 35 MLD STP in 2019. Recently the facility has been made available to 10 surrounding villages at no cost to achieve the state vision of rural-urban integration. More STPs are planned under the AMRUT scheme to treat grey water. These STPS will have built-in co-treatment units.

COVID-19 Pandemic - Impact, Discussions & Methods of Sanitation Services & Workforce  

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic bolstered the importance of sanitation. With regards to this, RMC has introduced several initiatives during the pandemic to encourage safe and hygienic practices like affordable desludging services to the households located in slums and giving PPE to the desludging operators.

"We have huge support from our ward secretaries who became a channel of communication between the Corporation and the citizens", said Mr. Kishore.

RMC has curated a PPE kit with 12 components for the sanitation workers along with a travel bag to carry the components. Each of those kits cost the Municipality around ₹4000. Later, an assessment was also conducted to understand the usage of the PPE. Numerous awareness campaigns were conducted to explain the importance of each item in the PPE kit. These campaigns helped in motivating the sanitation workers to use them every day.

"We ensured that all our workers are safe and provided all those facilities required to ensure their safety and hygiene. We have issued specialized PPE kits and institutionalized the practice of giving them every year", said Mr. Kishore.

During the pandemic, RMC also actively participated in the Safai Mitra Suraksha challenge and conducted several awareness campaigns/rallies for the citizens and capacity-building programs for sanitation workers. Organising Loan Mela was also apart of this initiative.

Going Forward

 

 

The city of Rajamahendravaram has implemented City Wide Inclusive Sanitation and aims to safely manage all the waste generated.

"Earmarking funds and levering on institutional structures of Ward Secretaries for Environment and Sanitation will ensure good quality and sustainable sanitation service delivery to all in the city. We will continue to be very focused on helping Andhra Pradesh emerge as a role model in sanitation", said Mr. Kishore.

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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