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GlobalPost Examines How Indian City Of Surat Cleaned Up After 1994 Plague Outbreak

GlobalPost reports how, spurred by an outbreak of the pneumonic plague in 1994, the Indian city of Surat “successfully went from one of the country’s dirtiest cities to one of its cleanest in 18 short months.” The news service writes that “after 54 residents died and some 300,000 fled to escape a possible quarantine, the people who stuck around were willing to get with the program — working to eliminate the tons of garbage and overflowing sewers that had inundated the city with disease-carrying rats.”

“Surat was able to make a raft of changes to the system, almost overnight,” including the division of the municipality into six zones for increased accountability of appointed commissioners, the decentralization of garbage collection, and a computerized complaint system for residents, according to the news service. “Perhaps more remarkable, despite the exodus of S.R. Rao, the municipal commissioner who made it happen, Surat has more or less maintained its high standards, despite the city’s rapid expansion over the past decade,” GlobalPost notes (Overdorf, 9/29).

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