Written by Kabir Arora. Waste Narratives. 10/01/2016
“It is very good news for us and waste pickers across the country that our work is being recognized. However, these awards need to translate themselves in actual gains for waste pickers across the country- we (wastepickers) should be integrated in solid waste management system, our health and other rights need to be protected, we should have right over recyclables”, said Mangal Jadhav, a waste picker from Shivaji Nagar, at the monthly meeting of SwaCH Cooperative, while hearing the news about the Indo-San award given by Prime Minister Modi to SwaCH. Her colleague Mrs. Rajabai Sawant, SWaCH management committee member received the award on behalf of the 2700 members strong cooperative.
To mark the second anniversary of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Mission), The Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Water & Sanitation organized an event to felicitate exemplary commitment towards the goals of the Mission. The awards were presented by the Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi. The INDO-SAN 2016 award from the Ministry of Urban development is a new feather in SWaCH’s cap. With over 2700 waste pickers servicing over 5,00,000 homes in a one of a kind collaboration, SWaCH members have worked hard to keep Pune city’s waste away from the landfill and have enabled extraction of recyclables which would have otherwise landed up in the landfills.
At the event, SwaCH Pune Seva Sahakari Sanstha, India’s first cooperative of waste pickers was felicitated along with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for mainstreaming integration of wastte pickers in Solid Waste Management. SWaCH management committee member Mrs. Rajabai Sawant received the award and accompanied by 10-person delegation of the PMC.
“We welcome the award and the recognition that comes with it. Despite the good news, not all challenges have been surmounted. An award is often a call to introspect and there are several issues that waste pickers grapple with before we can sit back and accept the accolades. On the ground however, everything is a struggle. Waste pickers have not received their dues for collecting waste from slums; money due to SwaCH has still not come in; there are a number of tempos that have started collecting waste without waste pickers, rain coats arrived well after the monsoon. We hope the award changes the situation,“ said Aparna Susarla from SWaCH.