Context: Results of Star rating of garbage free cities were announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

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  • For the assessment year 2019-2020, a total of six cities have been certified as 5-Star (Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Mysuru, Indore and Navi Mumbai), 65 cities as 3-Star and 70 cities as 1-Star.  
  • A revised protocol for the Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities was also launched alongside the results.
    • The new protocol will consider - 
      • ward-wise geo-mapping, 
      • monitoring of SWM (Solid Waste Management) value chain through ICT interventions like Swachh Nagar App and 
      • zone-wise rating in cities with population of 50 lakh+
  • In the recent phase of Star Rating Assessment, 1435 cities applied and 141 cities have been certified with Star Rating during field assessment. 
  • The low number of certifications signifies the rigorous and robust certification mechanism of the protocol


  • Five years ago, the ministry introduced Swachh Survekshan (SS), the annual cleanliness survey for urban India that has proven immensely successful when it comes to improving urban cleanliness through a spirit of healthy competition. 
  • However, since it is a ranking system, several of our cities, despite doing exceptionally well, were not being recognized appropriately. 
  • The Ministry, therefore, devised the Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities - a comprehensive framework similar to our examination systems where each ward in every city must achieve a certain standard across 25 different components of solid waste management (SWM) and is graded based on overall marks received.

Star Rating of Garbage Cities Program:

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) has launched the Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage Free cities.
  • Objective:  To make all 4,377 statutory towns/Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) achieve “Garbage Free” status wherein - 
    • At any point of time in the day, no garbage or litter is found in any public, commercial or residential locations (including storm drains and water bodies) in the city (except in litter bins or transfer stations), 
    • 100 percent of waste generated is scientifically managed, 
    • All legacy waste has been remediated 
  • The star rating conditions have been designed in a way as to enable cities to gradually evolve into a model (7-star) city, with progressive improvements in their overall cleanliness. 
  • The protocol, with increasing levels of stringency with increasing star rating, will also be aspirational in nature, feeding cities’ ambitions and dreams of becoming an ideal city for its residents, and a role model for other cities to follow.
  • The star rating conditions are based on 25 key parameters across the solid waste management spectrum.

  • The Star Rating is supported by a robust verification mechanism to ensure transparency and standardisation. 
  • Cities are required to carry out self-assessment and self-verification for achieving a certain star rating.
  • This self-declaration will be further verified through an independent third-party agency appointed by MoHUA for 1-star, 3-star, 5-star and 7-star garbage free ratings. 
  • To ensure that the star rating is aligned with our vision of making SBM a Jan Andolan, citizen groups have to be involved through the system of self-declaration.


  • The importance of sanitation and effective solid waste management has been brought to the forefront now due to the COVID crisis
  • In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the present situation could have been much worse had it not been for the critical part that SBM-U (Swachh Bharat Mission Urban) has played in the last five years to ensure a high degree of cleanliness and sanitation in urban areas.   

Steps for improving sanitation and condition of sanitation workers amidst Covid 19: 

  • It has issued detailed guidelines to all States and cities on special cleaning of public places and collection and disposal of bio-medical waste from quarantined households. 
  • It  revised its hugely popular citizen grievance redressal platform, Swachhata App in order to enable citizens to get their COVID-related issues also redressed by their respective ULBs. 
  • Touching upon the aspect of safety and well-being of sanitation workers, it issued an advisory which touches upon the aspect of provision of PPEs, health-check-ups and payment of regular wages to sanitation workers. 
  • A Special Micro-Credit facility for the Street Vendors to facilitate easy access is being launched to support nearly 50 lakh vendors.  
  • Similarly, to mitigate the hardships of urban migrants be it workers in manufacturing industries etc, Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) is being launched.
  • Cities have also undertaken several other innovations to tackle COVID
    • Some cities have been making use of drones for the sanitization of public areas while others have been making extensive use of fire tenders for the same. 
    • Cities like Ghaziabad have done commendable work in provision of food and shelter to the needy.  
    • Technology has been leveraged to provide all essential services to citizens and monitor the status of Quarantined Homes.

Way Ahead:

  •  The vision is to ensure holistic and sustainable sanitation across urban India through effective faecal sludge management through safe containment, transportation, disposal and processing along with 100% wastewater treatment in cities before discharging into water bodies, and their maximum possible reuse
  • The aim in the next phase of SBM – U will be able to make all our cities ODF+ and at least 3-Star Garbage free certified.
  • Our cities and towns will set new benchmarks in Swachhata thus paving the way for a “Swachh”, “Swasth”, “Shashakt” and “Sampann” AtmaNirbhar  New India.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) or Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is a nation-wide campaign in India launched in 2014 
  • SBA aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, towns, urban and rural areas.
  • The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminating open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring toilet use.
  • The mission has two thrusts: 
    • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ("gramin" or 'rural'), which operates under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation ( Now under Jal Shakti Ministry); and 
    • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ('urban'), which operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Since its launch in 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) has made significant progress in the area of both sanitation and solid waste management. 
  • Today, 4324 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) have been declared ODF (4204 certified ODF), 1306 cities certified ODF+ and 489 cities certified ODF++.  
    • The SBM ODF+:  focuses on sustaining community/ public toilet usage by ensuring their functionality, cleanliness and maintenance.
    • The SBM ODF++ :focus on achieving sanitation sustainability by addressing complete sanitation value chain, including safe containment, processing and disposal of fecal sludge and septage.
  • Moreover, 66 lakhs individual household toilets and over 6 lakhs community/ public toilets have been constructed/ or are under construction. 
  • In the area of solid waste management, 96% of wards have 100% door-to door collection while 65% of the total waste generated is being processed.


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