Mr. Durgeshwar Tripathi is the Executive Officer (EO) of Bijnor Nagar Palika Parishad (BNPP) in Bijnor, a densely populated district in Uttar Pradesh, situated 12 km west of river Ganga. A postgraduate in Sociology, Mr. Tripathi has undergone capacity building training, attended workshops and has been to conducted international field visits to learn and implement improved Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) practices. Mr. Tripathi believes that his journey at the BNPP has been very crucial to him given how much he has learnt being in this decision-making position.
While Bijnor is heavily influenced by political narratives, it has a robust and diverse City Sanitation Taskforce (CSTF), comprising of resilient women representatives, who meet once every quarter to steer discussions on various important aspects of the sanitation value chain. As an EO, Mr. Tripathi has been able to keep track of the updates and challenges of the city’s sanitation journey. Sanitation workers in Bijnor play a key role in the progress of the city. With technical support from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the BNPP has conducted regular training and awareness programs for these sanitation workers on the effective use of PPE, self-hygiene and equitable work rights. These have been impactful since not only have the city’s sanitation workers been regularly using safety gears to work but women sanitation workers have led the initiative actively.
LEADERSHIP THAT ENSURED SAFE SANITATION IN THE PANDEMIC
The COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 highlighted complexities that Bijnor had not preempted, just like the other cities and states. Mobilisation of citizens was prioritized. Community kitchens and hygiene precautions for daily wage workers stuck in the city became key to the BNPP’s efforts. The Chairman himself provided masks and sanitisers to those leaving the city. BNPP, with technical support from CSE, prepared various IEC collaterals for FSM as well as identified various private-sector emptying operators to ensure they have special passes during the COVID-19 crisis.
Additionally, throughout 2020, BNPP was also regularly visiting low-income settlements, with Health Department workers and CSE representatives to provide them with accurate information on handwashing, social distancing, and the importance to wear masks
Cross-sector participation, techniques of disseminating information and the usage of technology for the same were some of the learnings from the pandemic for the BNPP. To understand the situation on-ground better, the city made use of digital technology. Instant WhatsApp groups allowed real-time information sharing from different stakeholder groups such as sanitation workers, water supply workers, etc. which helped BNPP make sound decisions to aid the on-ground support.