Surat, the city that recently won the Swachh Survekshan 2023 survey for being the cleanest in India, has a hidden side that belies its prestigious title. Umarwada, a part of the Surat Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) ward 14, is a glaring example of the inequality and neglect that plagues the city. Umarwada’s residents face a daily ordeal of living in filthy and unhealthy conditions, while the rest of the city enjoys the benefits of cleanliness and development.
The contrast between Umarwada and the nearby areas of Matawadi and Bombay Textile market is striking. While these areas are bustling with economic activity and prosperity, Umarwada is left behind with overflowing drains, garbage dumps, and stagnant water. The residents of Umarwada have to wade through the sewage and trash that fill their narrow lanes, exposing them to various health hazards.
The plight of Umarwada came to light when opposition councilors visited ward 14 and witnessed the dismal situation. Payal Sakaria, the leader of the opposition in SMC, expressed her concern for the people living in such deplorable conditions. She said that the city’s leadership should not ignore the ground realities and focus only on the selected areas that were showcased for the survey. She urged them to address the issues of open drains, garbage piles, and sewerage in Umarwada and other neglected areas.
The case of Umarwada raises serious questions about the validity of Surat’s clean city award. It also highlights a crucial aspect of cleanliness that goes beyond the superficial and involves the fair and equal distribution of resources and development. The gap between the city’s clean image and the harsh reality of Umarwada’s residents calls for a holistic and inclusive approach to urban cleanliness.
Darshan Naik, a social activist, echoed this sentiment and asked for introspection. He said that the city’s leadership should acknowledge the reality of the people living in ward 14 and other similar areas. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the resources and infrastructure development are equitably distributed among all the residents of the city. He said that only then can Surat truly deserve the title of the cleanest city and be a city for everyone, not just a few privileged ones.
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