How did Indore become India's Cleanest City? A 9-step secret strategy is the answer

Indore has done it for the 5th time! It is the cleanest city in India, five years in a row. How did they do it?

 |  4-minute read |   23-11-2021
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Indore’s Sarafa Bazaar is popular for being the jewel paradise in the morning and a food haven by night. With Sarafa being such a popular foodie adda for its yummy Dahi Kachori and freezing-cold Matka Kulfi, it is bound to be crowded and filled with its fair share of litter, no?

But neither can one see any food waste, nor are there dirty plates anywhere. All you can see is a swanky clean city. So, how do they do this, year after year after year, five years in a row, to be precise?


First, of course, is acknowledging THE PROBLEM.

Like many cities, Indore’s waste management system was a mess. Inconsistent trash collection, inadequate processing facilities, minimal infrastructure and non-functional compositing facilities caused an unbearable situation. Mounts of untreated garbage at trenching sites, an ineffective citizen complaint system, and no solid waste management awareness led to dharnas and protests. 

Indore's Municipal Corporation had even received an order from the High Court and notices from the Central Pollution Control Board to create a time-bound program to correct the pathetic situation.


So, this is how Indore got its shit together.

1. Municipal corporations partnered with NGOs, private companies and IAS officers to lead by example and incorporate change in citizens. 

2. 400+ customised vehicles with seperate compartments for disposing dry and wet waste with higher capacity and better hydraulics were created. These GPS-linked vehicles travelled across the streets in the morning and giant open waste bins (that attracted strays) outside colonies were completely removed. 


3. Garbage vans collected segregated trash from commercial zones twice a day, and this waste was taken to a transfer station to ensure proper segregation. After this, it was taken to a waste processing facility.

4. As NGO workers segregated the waste in the processing facility, recyclable waste was sold to companies whereas organic matter was sold to farmers as compost (or given for free). The non-recyclable waste was sent to cement plants to construct roads.


5. Food waste from food stalls like Chappan Dukaans (56 shops) were transferred to processing facilities after segregation, and shops paid to process the waste. This helps them plan better to prevent food wastage and spend less.



6. For a decentralised waste processing of flowers, fruits, etc, biomethanation facilities convert organic waste to methane to create CNG. CNG is used to run buses and sold to hotels as cooking fuel (and to IIM too).  

7. Every night, between 10.30 and 11 pm, main roads are swept by water mist from recycled water provided by sewage treatment plants.


8. To prevent open defecation, the concept of Dabba Gang was created. This would involve a team that would go about the town between 5 am and 9 am. The Dabba Gang would play a dabba in their hand to make noise and shame people who did not follow directions. The Mayor also joined the team to encourage them for their efforts as public toilets were maintained at a regular distance.


9. When everyday hand-holding, monitoring and respect did not work, they suspended and terminated karmacharis who resisted change. Biometric attendance for regular attendance was mandated.




In 2014, PM Modi's Swachh Bharat Mission was a push to improve the situation for Indore. In 2016, Indore might have ranked 25th, but from 2016 onwards, it has consistently been ranking 1st.

The combined effort of people, NGOs and government officials have upgraded Indore to a training centre for waste management because this model has been successfully replicated in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. Indore has been adjudged to be India’s cleanest city and has been awarded the Swachh Survekshan Awards for the 5th time in a row. 


FINALLY, if these things are indeed simple and replicable, what stops us from using this model all over the country?


Akshata Kamath Akshata Kamath @akshispublished

Akshata Kamath is a Digital Storyteller at DailyO. She loves to simplify Finance, Business, Healing and History.

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