The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Pune, India – 30 July

SWACH Position Paper

SWACH is conceived as a decentralised, environmental friendly,  user fee based model of solid waste management that upgrades livelihoods of wastepickers and  promotes community participation as well as accountability of service providers to service recipients.

SWACH and KKPKP were approached by PCMC in 2009 to suggest a universal, user fee based door to door waste collection model using hopper vehicles purchased with funding from JNNURM. JNNURM projects are contingent upon user fee recovery as a mandatory reform.

Accordingly SWACH conferred with PCMC to develop a model based on the principles of

  • long term sustainability (based on a reducing cost principle where the pay out for PCMC reduces each year so that over an 8 year period it can run solely on user fee charges. )
  • citizen participation via payment of user fees,
  • integration of wastepickers,
  • environmental protection due to higher resource recovery and
  • compliance with all existing State and Central government directives, rules, policies and laws related to SWM. (enclosed relevant govt guidelines)

SWACH is a wholly owned cooperative of wastepickers. SWACH members are not employees but worker owners who are entitled to profit based dividends. The final draft of the SWACH model proposed to PCMC was premised on the understanding that the entire municipal area of PCMC would be covered progressively through a similar- user fee based model (even if the player is different).

This docket was placed by the administration and duly passed by the Standing Committee and General Body without ANY changes. (enclosed copy) based on which a formal MOU was signed between SWACH and PCMC (enclosed).

SWACH has been operational since October 2010, with 250 wastepicker members collecting waste from 2,00,000 households via 133 Tata Ace hoppers. Reports are submitted on an ongoing basis as per the requirements of PCMC in compliance with the MOU. This is borne out by the fact that SWACH has been paid 100% of its dues (albeit delayed) each month since the launch as it is compliant with all the performance parameters. (enclosed financial statement of rects, payments and dues outstanding).

Wrt PCMC compliance however since the inception there have been many clauses there have been violations that have been brought to the notice of the administration on a regular basis. The most blatant violation of the clauses include-

  • Delay in payment as per mou
  • Sorting sheds not provided in time
  • Parking spaces not provided as per mou directives
  • Arbitrary reduction in payment for 15 vehicles provided for 1st year of operation
  • Violation of the user fee principle by non communication to citizens and media despite incorrect accusations in the press
  • Assignment of work outside the scope of the MOU- lifting garden waste, cleaning road waste with no additional payment


In complete violation of the spirit of the proposal, the model as well as the MOU, signing a  5 year contract with BVG for doorstep collection of waste without charging user fees. PCMC has thereby created an unfair unlevelled playing field by introducing a non user fee based, weight based system in 2 wards of the city. The 2 models of SWACH and BVG do not sit well together because citizens in 2 wards will not pay for a service that is provided free in 2 other wards. The progressive increase in numbers of people paying user fees is not possible any more.

By changing the conditions in which it was to be operational the PCMC has effectively made the SWACH model redundant. Regular representations on each of the above violations have been systematically made to PCMC administration which has not chosen to respond to them. Neither have meetings to resolve the issue led anywhere.

Adding insult to injury Shri Amrutrao Sawant, Deputy Municipal Commissioner has served a notice to SWACH stating that workers are being treated unfairly and not paid wages and benefits. As mentioned earlier SWACH is a workers cooperative and the purpose of the model was to protect and upgrade the livelihoods of the members.The PCMC administration has indicated its willingness and commitment to protect workers interests by upgrading the livelihoods of the wastepickers.

Given the complete non compliance by and the unwillingness of PCMC in implementing the model as per the MOU and the principles behind it- and the commitment from Shri Sawant to ensure PCMC protects workers rights, SWACH members have decided to sign out of the MOU and pursue the legal processes to terminate the contract.

SWACH welcomes the fact that PCMC has raised the issue of the conditions of workers in the model and will ensure that even if it terminates the contract it will hold up PCMC and any pursuant models they may operate via any service providers to ensure that the rights of the wastepickers are protected unequivocally and as per the letter of the law.

Letter to citizens

Dear citizen,

We inform you with deep regret that we will not be collecting your waste from _________.

We have tried our best to provide you with good services. We learnt how to drive, we changed our work terms and timings to serve you better. As waste pickers our expertise is in sorting and selling recyclables. We were trying to protect our livelihoods and to improve our situation. We wanted to send our children to school like yours. Our children felt proud that we were stopped scavenging for waste from dumping grounds and containers and instead went door to door with dignity. Perhaps you are not aware that we also protect the environment because we recycle upto 18 % of waste. This can ensure a better future of your children as well. We thought we would manage your waste and you would pay us user fees and that this arrangement would work to our mutual benefit.

SWACH entered into a partnership with the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation a year and a half ago for waste collection in A and D Prabhag on the understanding that other wastepickers would cover B and C Prabhags after one year.

The PCMC has betrayed us. They advertised and tendered out the work to BVG on different terms. The PCMC pays that company on different terms to collect waste. The BVG model does not require collection of user fees. The PCMC has created a situation in which some citizens have to pay for waste collection and others do not. That is not fair to you or us. We tried talking about this issue with the officers and the politicians but there is no resolution in sight. In fact they have issued SWACH a notice about giving us minimum wages and other benefits! It is clear that the PCMC wants us to stop work. We would rather walk out in dignity.

Our struggle is not over though. We have to feed and clothe our children, we have to educate them, we have to provide for sickness and old age. So we need work. We will approach the same officials who have issued us a notice and ensure they protect our livelihoods with the new contractor they appoint and ensure they give us all the benefits.

We hope that you will support us in our struggle. For more details on the differences between the 2 models please turn overleaf. Please do sign the attached petition if you support our cause.

Members of SWaCH Seva

SWACH is an autonomous wholly owned cooperative of wastepickers of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.  It believes in a solid waste management model that ensures

  • long term sustainability (based on a reducing cost principle where the pay out for PCMC reduces each year so that over an 8 year period it can run solely on user fee charges. )
  • direct user fee model where citizens pay wastepicker directly- ensuring citizen participation and accountability of service
  • integration of wastepickers and upgradation of their work conditions
  • environmental protection due to higher resource recovery and
  • compliance with all existing State and Central government directives, rules, policies and laws related to SWM.



WardsA & DB & C
Started inNov-10
ComplianceJNNURM compliantNot JNNURM complaint
Payment termsBased on number of householdsBased on weight
User fee basedNot user fee based
RateDecreases each yearIncreases each year
WastepickersIntegrates wastepickersDoes not integrate wastepickers

We support the SWACH  Cooperative

We condemn the dual system that is operational in PCMC that is unfair to both citizens and wastepickers
We demand the integration of KKPKP authorised wastepickers in any doorstep waste collection model that the PCMC implements.

Phone Number
Ward A/D