Exposed: Swachh Bharat's top 7 cheating cities

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By Laxman Singh | Posted 11-Jan-2017Now Available on the mid-day iOS App, Download Now

While Surat and four more cities from Narendra Modi’s Gujarat are the worst offenders, Navi Mumbai also finds place in list of corporations that used dubious methods to boost their rankings in December 2016

Under the Swachhata App citizens can upload photos of the issues they are facing, like overflowing garbage dumps, and the local civic body will ensure they are addressed at the earliest. Representation pic
Under the Swachhata App citizens can upload photos of the issues they are facing, like overflowing garbage dumps, and the local civic body will ensure they are addressed at the earliest. Representation pic

In a bid to improve their city’s ranking under the central government’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), around 21 municipal corporations across the country have gotten their hands dirty. Officials from the Delhi-based SBM have found these civic bodies fudging numbers of the complaints they are receiving on the Swachhata App, introduced by the Ministry of Urban Development last year to address civic issues.

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While corporations of Ahmedabad and Surat top the list, closer to home in Maharashtra, Navi Mumbai has emerged as the one with sketchy numbers.

The Swachhata app has been designed to enable citizens to register civic complaints like cleaning of garbage, public toilets, removal of dead animals, etc. In December 2016, the Delhi-based SBM team observed irregularities in complaints registered on the Swacchata App in 21 cities across the country from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Red flag
According to the data, 1.55 lakh complaints have been registered on the app till December. A data analysis of the complaints received by the app in December 2016 has shown some questionable figures upon which officials from SBM have raised a red flag. Hundreds of complaints have been registered from the same mobile number.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has received 2,343 complaints in December on the app, of which 215 were registered from a single mobile number. The figures furnished by the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) are even more surprising.

What is mobile number?
While SMC claims to have received 23,595 complaints, AMC says it got complaints from 33,847 citizens. In Surat, 620 complaints were registered from a single mobile number while Ahmedabad had 281 from the same number.

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The data has also shown multiple downloads of the app on a single mobile phone. The maximum number of 184 downloads was observed in a single mobile phone for AMC while 42 downloads were similarly done in SMC. After the findings, SBM officials warned all the municipal corporations last week not to indulge in such practices or else they will be given negative markings during the rankings.

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Most irregularities were observed in cities in Gujarat. The other municipal corporations that are on SBM’s radar for manipulating complaints includes Pune, Navsari, Deoghar, Varanasi, Bilaspur, Tiruppur, Godhara, Rajkot, Vapi, Mysore and Ranchi.

With the help of the app, citizens can lodge complaints by uploading a picture on the app. The concerned municipal corporations are supposed to resolve them in a time-bound, which will help them earn them points. Greater number of points helps the civic body improve its rankings. Currently, the survey for SBM ranking is on across the country. The MoUD will announce the rankings in February.

SBM director says
Speaking to mid-day, SBM director Saurabh Jain confirmed the manipulation of numbers. “While doing analysis of data collected on the Swacchata app, we found several unusual number of friends registering complaints on the forum [from the same number]. The purpose of the app is to get more and more citizen participation in making cities cleaner. The act of some municipal corporations was not as per the motto of mission and with this, ground reality will not change.”

‘Not manipulating’

Dr Ashish Nayak, SBM in-charge at SMC
‘Initially, we had taken help of our sanitary inspectors to click the pictures of garbage and unclean locations and uploaded it on the Swacchata app. This may have reflected in multiple complaints from single mobile numbers. Otherwise, we receive at least 15 complaints from citizens (daily?) so there is no manipulating of figures of complaints.’

NCR Khersan, deputy civic commissioner, AMC
‘Yes there were cases of several complaints being registered from a single mobile phone but those are very few. As for the multiple downloads, they might have happened due to two local fairs [where the app was promoted]. The citizens must have visited these festivals, installed the app during the time and spotted garbage later.’

Tukaram Mundhe, NMMC commissioner was not available for comment 

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