In 2019, Mr. Subhankar Mohanty was appointed as the Deputy Commissioner of Sambalpur Municipal Corporation in Odisha. Prior to his joining, there have been multiple shifts in the decision-making authority at the Commissioner-level. Therefore, he had to take responsibility for almost the entire Corporation at various times, which further empowered him into taking  decisions in a leadership capacity. Mr. Mohanty has been the Nodal Officer for sanitation in Sambalpur and plays a key role when it comes to the smooth operations of the tasks undertaken by the Corporation. He is responsible for coordinating the daily sanitation activities, grievance management, tax and revenue collection, and COVID-related duties.

With a bright mind and the desire to carry out his duty in the best way possible, Mr. Mohanty finds innovative solutions for everyday problems faced by the citizens of Sambalpur. One of those solutions included the monitoring mechanism of messaging the grievances to a WhatsApp number that belongs to the Sambalpur Municipal Corporation without going to the Municipal office. He has also relied on the power of social media to solve the problems of citizens. This is done by trying to resolve the grievances posted by the people of the city on social media.       

One of the priorities of Sambalpur Municipal Corporation was solving      sanitation-led concerns. The Corporation carries out sanitation services through its own staff, thus making it challenging to maintain the quality of services. Managing the sanitation workers is another major challenge for Mr. Mohanty. As the Nodal Officer, he is responsible for the entire sanitation value chain including peoples’ grievances, and the execution of  routine processes like garbage collection and disposal efficiently and smoothly. Some initiatives under his belt to safeguard sanitation workers include training them at regular intervals on occupational hazards and safety kits and conducting periodic health camps for the workers.

Among the numerous steps taken by Mr. Mohanty for improving sanitation, he also initiated a collaborative effort to work with Self-Help Groups (SHGs) such as Swacch Saathis. They are paid volunteers who conduct door-to-door communication to bring awareness amongst the masses on topics such as waste management, and other municipal services like waste processing centres, public and community toilets, etc. In order to sustain this, he has organised numerous training sessions and provided handholding support to various SHGs.

He believes that an important part of this process is the engagement with community settlement level groups, such as the MISAAL Settlement Committees (MSCs).Hence, he has actively convened ward-level meetings between ward officers and MSCs, wherein the stakeholders discuss all the relevant issues and find solutions together. Integrating citizen participation in order to strengthen governance has also been one of their key strategies. Mr. Mohanty has taken a number of initiatives wherein citizens are consulted, and they are involved in the final decision making.

LEADERSHIP THAT ENSURED SAFE SANITATION IN THE PANDEMIC


He believes that the community needs to be an active participant when it comes to solving its issues and trying to find solutions for COVID-19 related challenges as well. Citizens of Sambalpur were very helpful and cooperative in bringing about awareness and communicating all the correct information pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of its vaccine.

"Sanitation and cleanliness are among the humblest of the civic virtues, and it is easy to underestimate their significance", said Mr. Mohanty.

GOING FORWARD

 

 

Mr. Mohanty will continue serving the citizens of Sambalpur and will help them solve sanitation related issues with his innovative ideas. His innovative approach to solve the challenges of a municipal corporation through citizens’ participation has created a precedent for other cities to follow.


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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