SWaCH Cooperative in Pune, India, appeared on a national television show Satyamev Jayate in March. In the episode “Invisible Environmentalists”, the show’s host Aamir Khan interviews Laxmi Narayan, co-founder of SWaCH and SWaCH waste picker Saru Bai, who now runs a compost plant with her husband.
Through this latest 12-page issue of the newsletter, SWaCH shares the journey it has been on since it was founded five years ago – the excitement, the anxieties, successes and new ideas that have emerged for making Pune a better city for all in the years to come.
NDTV 24X7, a national news channel, made a short documentary titled ‘’Real women, incredible lives: From ragpicker to entrepreneur” and Rekha, a waste picker associated with Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group and Safai Sena, was a part of it.
In 2007 waste pickers in Pune stepped out of garbage containers to establish SWaCH, a workers cooperative to provide front end waste management services to their city. SWaCH enabled their transition from waste pickers to service providers.
Pressure against the private contractors has been mounting since the Pimpri Chinchwad municipal government (PCMC) withheld payment from the company for violating labor laws. The new contracts proposed by the city government are supposed to ensure that workers will be paid minimum wages.
KKPKP has advocated for the unclean occupations scholarship program at the state government level. Stree Mukti Sangatana, a women’s liberation organization that works with waste pickers, has also been involved in this process. KKPKP has also been working at the city and state levels around the Right to Education program for underprivileged children.
An update from Hasiru Dala, a member-based organisation of waste pickers seeking to improve our conditions of work and ensuring continued access to recyclables in the city of Bangalore. Hasiru Dala works towards accessing the benefits of various government programs to which waste pickers are entitled, enhancing educational opportunities for their children and advancing the quality of their lives.
Rag Pickers are the backbone of a neat and beautiful metropolis. The green workers manage entire trash of urban locates around the globe. However, their contribution to the city’s waste management remains unrecognized. Vulnerability is exacerbated by the municipal solid waste management rules 2013.
On August 28th, 2013, the Ministry of Environment and Forests released the draft MSW Rules 2013 for public comments. These draft Rules are updating the original landmark Rules passed in 2000. Thirteen years later, we have learnt a lot about how to manage solid waste management programs that can clean our cities, provide jobs, and help reduce our burden on the environment. But these draft Rules have missed this incredible opportunity to apply the lessons we have learnt thus far.
Each day waste pickers have to directly handle hundreds of soiled sanitary pads and diapers (baby and adult). SWaCH designed a S.T. disposable bag for the appropriate disposal of soiled sanitary pads. However, there has been an urgent need to look into the appropriate disposal of soiled diapers as well. Responding to this need, SWaCH has designed an identifiable label for the disposal of soiled diapers.
AIKMM: National Green Assembly on “Waste Legislation and Waste Pickers”: New MSW draft rules continue to exclude Waste Pickers
There is urgent need to assess the measures that the government has taken over the past decade to improve waste management in the country. Millions of dollars have been spent in large scale, centralised technochratic solutions with little impact or improvement in levels of recycling. The Draft MSW Rules, 2013, do nothing to reform the situation. Instead, they seek to continue with the status quo and only increase the already thriving presence of waste to energy plants across the country. Is this the answer to our waste management woes? A consultation of concerned stakeholders seeks to address this question.
125 wastepickers, with the support of 400 volunteers diverted over 97 tonnes of nirmalya — offerings from this Ganapati festival — from the city’s rivers!!
Working very hard in most unfavorable and hazardous conditions, they are the sole player in reducing carbon emission by saving remarkable amount of energy and ensuring recycling and reuse of major portion of the garbage. Their role is not only to serve the environment they are also playing key role to support the executing bodies in saving a huge part of revenue and reducing the carbon emission. Sign the petition here.
Check out Safai Sena’s first newsletter in English: “Safainama: Voice of Waste Pickers.”
On August 16, 2013, over 250 waste recyclers of Safai Sena held a protest in front of Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam office. Many of them marched over 12 kilometers despite heavy rains that day. The protest was organized to raise a collective voice against the illegal collection of money by private contractors and exploitation of waste recyclers in Kavi Nagar and Mohan Nagar zones.
SAFAI SENA: If they pick waste, they must be thieves — the daily struggles of a waste picker in Delhi
Manwara, a waste picker, has been in Delhi since her childhood. She chose this work to add to her husband’s income who is also a waste picker. Recently, Manwara’s dream turned ugly when her innocent children were blamed for a theft that happened in the nearby area. She was unaware that her being waste picker would make her so vulnerable to being accused, harassed, and suffers violence openly.
Currently wastepickers have to deal with this waste as part of household waste that they collect and also when they are picking from containers, dumps and landfills. In the recent years the amounts of this waste is also rising rapidly. As you can imagine handling this waste with their bare hands is particularly degrading and can impact the health of women who can have a compromised immune system from malnutrition and hardships.
On July 26, Safai Sena sent letters to New Delhi’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare in the Women and Child Department and the Delhi Commission for Women detailing what happened to the Safai Sena waste picker and her son on July 19 and calling for a number of actions and reforms. (the letters were written by Jai Prakash Choudhary, Safai Sena secretary)
Lack of access to education is one of the many struggles that waste pickers and their children have endured, coupled by the pressure to drop out of school for lack of financial resources. While there has been a law in place since 1977 that designates educational support for the children of parents who perform “unclean” occupations, government officials have created barriers and made things difficult for waste pickers.
DSS, an NGO based in Ujjain, India organized a waste pickers’ convention in June. The organizers reported that the feedback from the participants was very positive. Many said it was the first time they had participated in something like this and it boosted their confidence to have a government official in their midst interacting with them respectfully.