23 Nov 2021  |   05:21am IST

Is this the best Goa can perform?

Is this the best Goa can perform?

Goa has emerged as the third cleanest State among those with less than 100 urban local bodies. A third place is hardly a feat to be proud of, as the State has 12 municipal councils and 1 municipal corporation. It has a population of approximately 15 lakh in a land mass of the area of 3702 square kilometres. Couldn’t it have performed better? That is the only question that we should be asking ourselves, for third place can be construed a failure of governance and of cleanliness on the part of the urban local bodies and of the State government as a whole, for if in urban local bodies Goa got third place (among small States), it stood at 13th place among 23 States that were part of the exercise conducted by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. 

It has come behind the States of Jharkhand and Haryana, much larger states, with higher populations and more cities and towns. For instance, Haryana with an area of 44,212 square kilometres and a population of 2.54 crore has 87 municipalities of which 10 are corporations, 19 are councils and 58 are committees. Jharkhand on the other hand has a much larger area of 79,714 square kilometres and a population of 3.19 crore and has 50 urban local bodies of which nine are corporations, 20 are councils, another 20 are committees and 1 is a notified area committee. Goa, when placed alongside these two States should have achieved a much higher ranking primarily because of size of area and population are advantages the other States do not have.

Yet, before the State can even begin to make any claims of cleanliness based on this, it has to take a sharp and critical look at other rankings in the list and attempt a turnaround for itself before the rankings dip further. For one, no city in Goa found itself on the list of cleanest in the country. Not even the State capital Panjim that is on the fringes of becoming a smart city and is the host of the International Film Festival of India, that draws delegates from across the world. Panjm stood at 208 out of 304 cities, so not even in the top 200. What happened to Margao, Mormugao and the other towns in Goa? Further, in the rankings among districts, North Goa was placed at 342 and South Goa at 463.

The rankings should stir the urban local bodies, the district administration and the State government to improve cleanliness in the State. Cleanliness should be a concerted effort right from the government to the village bodies, failing which nothing will change. If Goa cannot score enough to find a place among the top ten of cleanest States in the country, what does it say of governance in the State? There is no excuse for the low rankings that Goa has obtained, it is plainly clear that the State has completely failed in its civic duties. Where does it go from here? Is there a plan to keep the State clean?

Start with Panjim, the only corporation and the State capital. It is a designated smart city and can be converted into a model urban local body area that inspires other towns to emulate. It shouldn’t be difficult to do this, but only as long as there is the political will to improve. Development need not always mean new infrastructure, it should include keeping the State clean. Goa has the opportunity to be a model State, but only if it grabs that chance. In the 60 years of its liberation, can Goa make the changes required to climb those rungs up the ladder of cleanliness?