2014-21: The Story of Aurangabad’s Progress In Solid Waste Management

In the summer of 2017 we conducted a summer program for 11-12th grade students from across the world at a college near Pune. They were all from urban areas in their respective countries. In a word association ice-breaker game 55 out of 60 wrote “concrete jungle, traffic congestion, air pollution, no parks” and other negative features as the word they associated with “URBAN”. Despite growing up in and receiving significant opportunities from their respective cities, there was a tendency to paint cities in a negative light.

The Swachh Bharat Mission, above and beyond its obvious impact on improved solid waste management and sanitation in Indian cities, has provided cities with an opportunity to track progress, document it and flaunt it! In general discourse it may seem that our cities are riddled with problems and inefficiencies, but today we want to take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the progress made by our city of Aurangabad in solid waste management, which is an indication of the progress made by many Indian cities.

When we started working in Solid Waste Management in Aurangabad in 2014 the municipal body was collecting mixed waste from households and dumping points and transporting it all to the dumping ground at Naregaon-Mandki (as it had been for over two decades despite repeated protests and court cases). This system had put the city “on the brink of a public health and environment emergency” (according to Service Level Benchmarking done by the Ministry of Urban Development in 2011).

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