Waste pickers of Maharashtra are in a celebratory mood. On August 27th, the Maharashtra Government finally conceded to their demand for inclusion under the centrally sponsored pre-matric scholarship scheme for children of those working in “unclean” occupations.
The idea of “equity in education” in India has unfortunately remained just an idea… And this is despite the fact that a large section of the marginalized in our country has been involved in its pursuit. Access to education continues to remain difficult for the children of waste pickers whose relentless efforts and petitions have fallen on deaf ears, and don’t find a place within the agenda of the Maharashtra government.
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.
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.
The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation authorities had been shockingly apathetic to the inhuman treatment to over 400 waste workers employed by its contractor BVG Kshitij. In frustration, the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) called for a public “verification drive” to ascertain the exact wages paid to workers by the company.
SWaCH — a waste picker-owned cooperative that was responsible for recycling throughout half of Pune, India — has been fighting a battle since it was squeezed out by a private contractor hired by the municipal government.
Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a registered trade union of waste pickers based in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, organised an awareness programme for its members on January 2 2013, to familiarise them with RTE Act, and particularly to discuss with them how to make best use of the provisions of the 25% reservation quota for children from deprived backgrounds.
Check out SWaCH waste pickers’ cooperative November 2012 Newsletter. Read articles about waste pickers working with scrap shops, pianist Kimball Ghallager making music with SWaCH, E-waste programs in schools across India, waste pickers keeping Pune’s rivers clean, and much more. Download the SWaCH Newsletter Issue 5 in English or in Marathi.