Hit by disasters like floods and cyclones almost every year, Behrampur in Odisha faces a huge challenge in maintaining the cleanliness & hygiene. Former Berhampur Municipal Commissioner Anjana Panda, OAS-Government of Odisha writes about her efforts in meeting the challenges
Berhampur, the City Berhampur is located on the eastern coastline of the country, approximately 9km away from Bay of Bengal. It has good connectivity by road and railway. The city is a business hub of Southern Odisha and has gained much significance because of its proximity to the tourist destination Gopalpur port and Vishakhapatnam. With having prime, renowned educational institutions to its name, it is known for its excellence in academics and the culture of curricular activities. The city is renowned as “Silk City” for its exquisite handicraft works and hand-woven silk.
The city covers an area of 39.07sqm and it has to its name the oldest Municipality in Odisha. It was constituted in 1867 and attained the status of Municipal Corporation in 2008. The Corporation comprises of 40 wards.
The basic challenges faced by the city are water supply, drainage, access to toilets, slums and last but not the least solid waste management. All these challenges almost relate to age old infrastructure facilities available and the traditional style of life maintained by the local people. The city has experienced two severe cyclones namely Super Cyclone, 1999 and Phailin in 2013 and a recent one named Hud Hud in 2014. All these disasters made the infrastructure of the city quite vulnerable. In the above backdrop, it became very difficult to make the city clean in true sense.
As the Commissioner, I felt public awareness and participation is the total solid waste generated per day is around 160 tonnes, out of which 68% is collected and disposed of in the outskirts of the town in the open field. With very less manpower and infrastructure, it is very much difficult to maintain sanitation and hygiene of the city. The people have a tendency to throw domestic garbage into open drains which usually causes choking of drains. The other issue about disposal of household liquid wastes including toilet wastes into the open drains. Around 25% people don’t have access to toilets. Twenty-seven public toilets are present in the city yet most of them are in bad condition, except a few managed by Sulabh Souchalya. Berhampur is one of the few cities which have large slum population. The other most important challenge the city faces is the maintenance of large number of water bodies. People prefer to eat out and this has resulted in a number of food stalls making the City most vulnerable to non-hygienic conditions.