CSE stands by its assessment of SwachhSurvekshan 2019

Rebuts Union housing and urban affair’s ministry’s charges 

New Delhi, March 25, 2019: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has issued a strong rebuttal to a press release sent out by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA), in which the ministry has called CSE’s recent assessment of the SwachhSurvekshan 2019 “factually incorrect” and “erroneous”. CSE had released its analysis of the Survekshan results earlier this month, and had found loopholes in the survey and its rankings ( see complete chart of CSE’s Click here ).

Said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE: “We stand by our assessment. We strongly believe that SwachhSurvekshan is a great and laudable initiative. But poor implementation has marred it.” 

CSE’s rebuttal 

According to the MoHUA: Online data collection from urban local bodies (ULBs) was done every month between September and December 2018.Only the ground-level assessment and citizen’s feedback were completed in 28 days. More than 3,000 assessors were involved in the survey, and each of the 4,237 ULBs was physically visited by the assessors; every visit was recorded through geo-tagging and time stamping of the assessors. 

CSE's response: This is exactly what CSE is saying in its assessment -- 28 days are not enough for an extensive on-ground survey. Many surveyors never visited the cities or were not competent enough to assess them; it is not CSE which is saying so -- municipal authorities of cities such as Panchgani, Vengurla and Muzaffarpur and the state urban department of Bihar have said this.

According to the MoHUA: CSE has said that cities that are doing good work on the ground were not awarded. The entire data of the first part (service-level progress) was based on information provided by cities themselves on the online MIS portal, and further validated and triangulated through direct observation and citizen’s feedback. The ministry has not received any complaint from any state or city regarding their ranks/awards.

CSE's response: In its analysis, CSE has mentioned that many states -- Kerala, Maharastra, Goa and Bihar among them -- have acknowledged they are not happy with the results of the Survekshan inspite of working consistently to improve their solid waste management and sanitation. Dehradun (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/upset-with-ranking-dmc-to-approach-the-centre/articleshow/68309802.cms) and Vijaywada have gone public with their dissatisfaction.

According to the MoHUA: It has been publicly declared that the focus of SS 2019 was on sustaining the outcomes achieved under the SBM Urban so far. Accordingly, the indicators included sustainable ODF status (including ODF, ODF+, ODF++ certifications), sustainable solid waste and faecal sludge management practices including source segregation, daily sweeping, plastic waste management, construction and demolition waste management, collection of user charges, levy of fines, landfill remediation, sustainable waste processing for segregated waste streams, ensuring no overflow of septic tanks, and no emptying of untreated faecal sludge in water bodies, in addition to overall cleanliness of the city (including Star Rating certifications for garbage-free cities). All these indicators are publicly available on the SBM portal.

CSE's response: The CSE analysis, which looked at top 50 ranks under the survey, found the majority of the ranked cities have merely achieved ‘visible cleanliness’ and not sustainable waste management. Said Swati Singh Sambyal, programme manager, solid waste management, CSE: “This is true of Ujjain, ranked fourth, which dumps the bulk of its waste on the Gondiya trenching ground, where a major fire incident occurred recently. Ahmedabad, which secured the sixth spot, dumps its waste at the highly contested Pirana landfill site. Ghaziabad (ranked 13th) has only recently started composting and still dumps over 80 per cent of its waste. In Jaipur, there is neither segregation at source nor processing.” 

Swati adds that as per MIS sheets of cities made available to CSE by state urban departments, there are huge discrepancies in data submission (in some cases, processing values are higher than generation estimates and cities have claimed 100 per cent segregation, collection and processing, which cannot be true). “In such a scenario, how can sustainable waste management be assessed?” she asks.

According to the MoHUA: ULBs were not informed about the exact date when the assessor was visiting their city– this was done to have an element of surprise in direct observation.

CSE's response: CSE never said anything about ULBs being informed. It has, in fact, acknowledged the surprise checks and negative marking of cities wherever false data was provided. CSE had itself suggested this in a meeting held in July 2018,as a measure to strengthen the Sarvekshan methodology. 

CSE SS2019 analysis (pdf)


  • For any other details, please contact Sukanya Nair of The CSE Media Resource Centre, sukanya.nair@cseindia.org / 8816818864.