Tracking Progress: MoUD releases results of the Swachh Survekshan 2017

MoUD releases results of the Swachh Survekshan 2017

In a bid to make India free of open defecation and enhance cleanliness levels in cities, the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in October 2014. Under the mission, the ministry aims at achieving a nationwide open-defecation- free status by 2019. In the course of the past two and a half years, the SBM has made significant progress. By March 2017, about 3 million individual household toilets and 120,592 community toilets had been built across the country. Further, about 52 per cent of all wards across cities had achieved 100 per cent door-to-door waste collection and 23 per cent of the waste collected was successfully processed.

The MoUD has undertaken several initiatives to encourage the development of toilet facilities and ensure proper solid waste management (SWM) in Indian cities. For instance, it has launched the Swachhata-MoUD mobile application to facilitate civic grievances related to sanitation, organised cleanliness drives across the country, and encouraged citizens to be cleanliness leaders within their wards by volunteering to be “Swachagrahis”. Among several such initiatives, the government launched an annual nationwide survey in 2016 – the “Swachh Survekshan” – to periodically assess progress made under the SBM. The survey assesses the SWM status across cities on an annual basis and ranks them on the basis of their performance. This ranking has fostered a sense of competition among municipalities and urban local bodies (ULBs) in terms of meeting their respective SBM targets in a time-bound manner. While in 2016 the survey assessed 73 cities, the scope of the survey was increased substantially in 2017, with 434 cities assessed on the levels of their SWM systems.

Survey components and methodology

The survey analyses cities based on five sanitation parameters. These are waste collection, sweeping and transportation (40 per cent weightage); the construction of toilets and extent of open defecation (30 per cent); waste processing and disposal (20 per cent); information, education and behavioural changes (5 per cent); and capacity building through the SBM e-Learning portal (5 per cent).

Further, Swachh Survekshan takes a three-pronged approach to data collection with respect to these parameters. Data is collected from municipal bodies, through direct observations and independent assessment by survey assessors, and through direct citizen feedback.

Under the survey, each municipal body is ranked out of a total score of 2,000 marks. Of this, the assessment of data under municipal documentation carries the highest weightage of 900 marks (or 45 per cent of the total score). Meanwhile, independent assessment and physical observation entails a weightage of 25 per cent and carries a total of 500 marks. Under this, survey assessors review the sanitation conditions across all areas of a city – residential areas (slums, informal settlements, and unplanned and planned colonies), commercial and public locations, bulk waste generators, and community/public toilets. The assessors are equipped with maps and hand-held devices to record their observations. In addition, photographs of infrastructure facilities are also collected as evidence of the field survey.

The third component of data collection, direct citizen feedback carries a total of 600 marks (30 per cent weightage) under the survey. Of this, 450 marks are allocated for citizen feedback (taken from a sample of 0.01 per cent of the city’s population). In the 2017 survey, questions related to sanitation and hygiene were posed to citizens in 11 different languages across the country. The feedback was collected through phone calls, both inbound and outbound, and social media platforms. The remaining 150 marks under citizen feedback are for the Swachhata-MoUD mobile application. The application allows citizens to highlight civic issues such as irregular emptying of garbage dumps and inadequate cleaning of public toilets to their respective ULBs. Thus, the MoUD scores cities based on the city-wise number of application downloads, and the number of complaints received and addressed by ULBs within the prescribed service level agreement time frames.

The entire performance evaluation of cities is undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body established by the Government of India in 1997. In the 2016 chapter of the survey, QCI assessed 73 cities across the country and the 2017 exercise was expanded to 434 cities.

Swachh Survekshan 2017

The 2017 cleanliness survey involved 421 assessors visiting over 17,500 locations across the country. A total of 1,582 community and public toilets and 2,560 residential areas were visited by them to collect sanitation data. While the aim was to assess 500 Indian cities, eventually only 434 cities participated in the survey.

The results of the Swachh Survekshan were announced by the MoUD in May 2017. The cities of Indore, Bhopal, Visakhapatnam, Surat and Mysuru emerged as the five cleanest cities in the country. Besides developing waste management infrastructure, the survey highlighted several innovative measures undertaken by these cities to ensure cleanliness. For instance, Indore has engaged informal waste pickers for effective solid waste collection. Meanwhile, in Bhopal, citizen participation through a civic group called the Bhopal i-Clean Team has driven the city’s cleanliness initiatives. In Indore and Surat, wall graffiti has been used to spread awareness about sanitary practices among the public.

Survey analysis

On observation, one can see that there has been a significant change in the results of the survey as compared to 2016. For instance, Mysuru, which topped the city ranking in 2016, conceded its place to Indore and settled at fifth place in 2017. Chandigarh, the New Delhi Municipal Council and Tiruchirappalli, which were among the top five cities in 2016, were accredited lower ranks in 2016 and failed to make it to the top five cities. In 2017, they were ranked 11th, 7th and 6th respectively.

On the other hand, Indore rose significantly in rank, from being 25th in 2016 to the cleanest city in the country today. The score accredited to the city rose across all three data collection points, from 1,276 in 2016 to 1,807 in 2017. The same goes for Bhopal. It moved from being 21st to the second cleanest city. Meanwhile, Visakhapatnam and Surat moved up the ladder from being fifth and sixth in 2016, to third and fourth in 2017 respectively. At the bottom of the list are the cities of Katihar, Hardoi, Bagaha, Bhusawal and Gonda, with dismal overall sanitation scores (ranging between 304 and 382).

While there has been significant movement in city rankings, it is also imperative to take a look at the spread of sanitation scores across all cities. It can be seen that the majority of the 434 cities assessed in 2017 (about 54.4 per cent) have been able to score only 50 per cent or less (out of the maximum score of 2,000). Further, only 35 cities (8 per cent) of the cities assessed have managed to score 75 per cent or more in the survey. Therefore, in spite of the numerous initiatives undertaken under the SBM, much more effort is needed to ensure that India’s urban centres provide and maintain adequate SWM systems.

However, to truly understand progress under the SBM, it is essential to analyse the performance of the 73 cities assessed in 2016 vis-à-vis 2017. It has been observed that in 2016, about 27 per cent of the 73 cities scored 50 per cent or less. Most of the cities (about 73 per cent) fell in the 1,000-2,000 score range. However, there has been a significant shift in the spread in 2017. While none of these cities scored below 500 in 2017, the share of cities scoring less than 50 per cent rose to 38 per cent. At the same time, there was a fall in the share of cities scoring 50 per cent or more, with only 63 per cent of the cities attaining these marks (as compared to 73 per cent in 2016). Therefore, one can infer that progress under the SBM has unfortunately faltered in these cities. However, it must be noted that in 2017, the spread of scores is more even as compared to 2016.

Taking steps forward

Besides city-specific scores and ranking, the survey has highlighted significant achievements that have been made in SWM in the 434 cities assessed in 2017…

  • 100 per cent door-to-door waste collection is being practised in 297 cities (68 per cent).
  • 118 cities have been found to be completely open-defecation-free.
  • 166 cities are tracking more than 75 per cent of their garbage collection and transportation vehicles with global positioning system and radio frequency identification technology.
  • More than 75 per cent of all wards in 85 cities are undertaking/practising waste segregation across all the processing stages.
  • Over 75 per cent of all community and public toilets in 190 cities have been reported to be adequately ventilated and lit, with proper water supply and electricity connections.


In the past two-three years, a significant growth momentum has been recorded in the SWM segment across Indian cities. The assessment under Swachh Survekshan has helped the government in tracking the actual progress, and analysing city-level achievements and deficiencies. The recent survey results have thrown some light on the glaring gap in the provision of sanitary conditions in the country. Going forward, the competitive environment created by the survey is expected to push urban centres to undertake more initiatives in SWM.