Trash turf Chaibasa frowns at swachh crown

Residents question best waste management title, national survey parameters

By Animesh Bisoee
  • Published 21.05.18
SPOT THE LAKES: Jora Talab, the 15-acre water bodies in the heart of Chaibasa town in West Singhbhum, lies buried under garbage and hyacinth. (Bhola Prasad)

Chaibasa: This headquarter town in iron ore-rich West Singhbhum is bewildered to behold its Swachh Survekshan crown for best solid waste management among eastern cities with population of less than a lakh.

Situated some 60km from Jamshedpur, Chaibasa has always been more at home with its garbage littered roads, overflowing drains and the choking 15-acre Jora Talab - twin lakes that were. While many candid residents are despising this undeserving fame, others are merely gasping in surprise.

" Ye swachh survey ka parameter kya hai abhi tak samajh nahi aaya (We are yet to understand the parameters based on which the sanitation survey is carried out)," said Vikas Chandra Mishra, a trader and founder member of West Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Mishra admitted that he felt a glint of pride to see the name of his town in newspapers, but he wasn't sure if the reasons were right. "A lot remains to be done in terms of garbage collection and solid waste management," he added.

The Jora Talab, alongside Mangla Haat (Kolhan's biggest market), is the nucleus of all the squalor. From kitchen waste and used plastic to construction debris and unmentionables - everything dirty makes its way to the lakes, which were once the coveted landmark and sites for religious congregations. Algae and water hyacinth have given Jora Talab a quiet burial.

"We keep hearing about beautification plans for Jora Talab, but nothing concrete ever happens on the ground. How can anybody rate this town the best in waste management when there is clear and present violation of all environmental norms?" asked Nishant Kumar, a shopkeeper at Mangla Haat.

Disposal of solid waste too questions the prudence of the national surveyors.

"Garbage is dumped near Shamshan Kali Mandir Road by the authorities. Rain and storm make further mess of it. Flying trash inconveniences funeral processions. There is just one crematorium in Chaibasa," said Mishal Bara, a resident of Ward 1.

This correspondent saw tall mounds of garbage along the approach to the crematorium. A graveyard is also located nearby. Spilling vats are a common sight in many areas like Jail Road, particularly the stretch near Mangilal Rungta Plus Two School. The old district collectorate hasn't been spared the unpleasantness either.

"News padhkar sirf muskura sakte hain aur kuch nahi (The national cleanliness and sanitation ranking has become a laughing matter)," said Ramesh Prasad, a practising lawyer and secretary of Chaibasa Bar Association. He added that the entire exercise was a farce because the survey was restricted to elite pockets and neat paperwork.

Chaibasa Nagar Parishad has jurisdiction over 21 wards with a total population of nearly 45,000. The town generates around 16 tonnes of waste daily. Its newly elected chairman Mithilesh Thakur cited crunch of manpower and resources.

"We have been asking (the urban development department) for more staff and funds for effective waste collection and disposal. We hope to get them soon. A private agency will be roped in to operate a compost plant," he said.

Executive officer of the nagar parishad Kumar Narendra Narayan claimed beautification plan for Jora Talab was in its final phase. "Noida-based Pioneer Infrastructure Private Limited will also start work on construction of a waste treatment plant in June," he added.