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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Country India

August 30, 2018

Letter by the Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers representatives to municipal authorities of Indore city to include waste-pickers in solid waste management of Indore city.

2nd August 2018


To: Mr. Ashish Singh, IAS
The Commissioner
Indore Municipal Corporation
Indore, Madhya Pradesh

Copied to: Union Minister of State for  Housing and Urban Affairs, Secretary, Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, Urban Development and Housing Department of Government of Madhya Pradesh and National Mission Director, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.


Subject: Integration of wastepickers in Solid Waste Management of Indore city.

Respected Sir,

Indore has been twice declared the cleanest city in the Swachh Bharat Sarvekshan and we congratulate you on this. The Indore Municipal Corporation have deployed considerable human and material resources for this purpose.

Waste-pickers from different parts of the country had assembled in Indore on 23-24th 2018 for a workshop on ‘Understanding Social Protection for Waste-pickers’. Security of livelihood is part and parcel of social protection.

The Indore Municipal Corporation had issued identity cards to 2000 waste pickers in the city two years ago. Their relevance in the recycling chain has been acknowledged even in the Solid Waste Management Rules of 2016. Their presence at the Material Recovery Facilities of the Indore Municipal Corporation for sorting of recycling materials is a testimony to that fact. However, this end of the pipeline integration of waste pickers in Indore has meant the loss of livelihoods and unsafe and unfair working conditions for most of the waste-pickers. Waste-pickers are asked to wade through the mixed waste to recover recyclables, a lot of time waste-pickers end up in getting hurt by broken glass or sharp materials which are there in the mixed waste. They are forced to sell recovered materials to the Material Recovery Centre (MRC) operator, who does not provide the market price for scrap material, short-changing the waste-pickers labour and essentially engaging waste-pickers on piece rate without provisions of minimum wages, social security and welfare protection (including Provident Fund, Employee Social Insurance, Leaves and Bonus). Further worsening their existing financial and social position.

Unfortunately, waste pickers have been excluded from the very activities of the door to door collection of segregated waste that would have helped them to transform their lives. Waste pickers can access recyclable materials at the landfill site and that too only after compaction. Their right to sell the materials in the open market has been curtailed and they are forced to sell their materials only to the facility operator. This has disrupted the recycling chain and caused unemployment downstream. We would like to believe that these exclusions are not intentional.

All those assembled at this workshop endorse the demands of waste-pickers of Indore as follows:

  1. All waste pickers in Indore are registered as provided for under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and provided with identity cards. The existing organizations working waste-pickers should be involved in identification and enumeration process. The registration process details are provided as annexure.
  2. Waste pickers are given the opportunity to join the Indore Municipal Corporation for the door to door collection.
  3. Material Recovery Work sheds be established at all the transfer stations where waste pickers should be permitted to access recyclable materials prior to compaction in the capsules.
  4. Only materials that have no market and are rejected by waste pickers should be compacted in the capsules.
  5. The wastepickers who are interested in alternative vocations should be given training for skill up-gradation, as prescribed in Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. The skill up-gradation can cover areas like the door to door collection of waste, event waste management, recycling plastic material. The waste pickers who are interested in carrying out composting work be trained and hired as workers in the composting plants and for in situ composting. All these opportunities constitute as green jobs and contribute to sustainable development of Indore city.
  6. Wastepickers should be provided space for the aggregation of materials recovered from the waste. The wastepickers should be given occupational safety gear including gloves, shoes, aprons and uniforms (wherever required) on timely basis.
  7. The occupational identity card of waste pickers is considered valid for benefits under all government schemes even if they don’t have a BPL card.
  8. The penalization of wastepickers by municipal/state authorities should stop. The wastepickers above the age of 60 should not be stopped from working. They are a productive workforce, who are earning their livelihood.

We look forward to your intervention in ensuring justice to the 3000 waste pickers of Indore city.

Yours Sincerely

Members of the Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers

  1. All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh, Delhi
  2. Asangathit Mahila Sangathan, Indore
  3. Dalit Bahujan Resource Centre, Guntur
  4. Hasiru Dala, Bengaluru
  5. Iainehskhem Self Help Group, Shillong
  6. Janvikas Society, Indore
  7. Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, Pune
  8. Kagad Kach Patra Kastkari Sanghathana, Aurangabad
  9. Rajasthan Kachra Majdoor Sangh, Jaipur
  10. Sahjeevan Trust, Bhuj
  11. Sarvodya Shramik Mahila Sahkari Sakh Sanstha, Indore
  12. Social Action for Literacy and Health (SALAH), Kalyan
  13. Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA), Kolkata
  14. Solid Waste Management Institute of Maharashtra, Aurangabad
  15. Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Mumbai
  16. SwaCH, Pune.