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  Home >> Cleanliness >>  Permitting the rag pickers to collect the waste from homes, shops and market places. 


About permitting the rag pickers to collect the waste from homes, shops and market places.

Government of Maharashtra  
Water Supply and Sanitation Department
Government Circular No: Ghakavya 1001/ Pra. Kra 546/ Papu-22

Mantralaya Mumbai 400032

Date: 5 January, 2002

See: 1) The Burman Committee Report-The committee that was appointed to study the solid waste management in class-1 cities by the Hon. Supreme Court of India

2) Shasan Paripatrak No. Ghakavya- 1099/ Pra Kra 314/ Papu-22 Dated: 6, April 1999

3) Civil Solid Waste Management (Management and Handling) Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India .  


Solid waste management is an important task of the local self- government bodies. Increasing urbanization poses the question of the management of the resulting waste, for the civic authorities.  As there is no scientific method of collecting and disposing the waste, pollution in the city rises, paving the way for different epidemics.  The waste that is generated in the city, is not stored at one place. In recent times, it has been observed that the waste generated is thrown on the roads, footpaths, in drains and gutters by the citizens.  Also, the roads and footpaths of the city are not cleaned regularly and hence the waste keeps accumulating.  

Regarding the petition filed in the Hon Supreme court with respect to solid waste management, the Supreme Court established the Burman Committee to study the status of the solid waste management in Class I cities in India and recommend measures for improvement.  Considering the recommendations made by the Burman Committee, also as per the order of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Environment and Forest   of the Central Government has prescribed Rules, 2000, for municipal solid waste (management and handling).  As per that, the civic authorities have to classify the waste generated in the city, collect it, store it, treat it and dispose the waste in a specific timeframe.  As per the provision drafted by the Central government, implementation of the above is mandatory.  

At present rag pickers do the task of collecting waste in small and big cities.  They earn their livelihood by collecting waste in the city.  It is assumed that about 10% of the total waste generated in the city is collected by rag pickers and sold through a middleman to recycling industries. This helps lessen the burden of expenses on the civic authorities to collect waste, transport it and dispose it. This group mainly consists of women, girls and boys. One of the many recommendations made by the Burman Committee is to organize these rag pickers enlisting the help of non-government organizations, for Door-step collection of waste.  If these rag pickers are organized and asked to collect waste from allotted places it will help in the management of cleanliness in the city and result in better health for the people.  Also, as they will get a good price for their collected waste, it will help raise their living standards.  Based on these recommendations of the Burman Committee, the government considered giving instructions to civic authorities.

Government Circular:  

As a part of the different methods available to collect and dispose the waste generated in the city, rag pickers should be organized with the help of non-government organizations for Door-step collection of waste generated on a day-to-day basis from homes, shops and market places and dispose it, and the civic authorities should implement the following methods and regulations.  

  1. These unorganized rag pickers collecting waste in different parts of the city should be organized with the help of the non-government organizations and register a cooperative. The local self-government should take an initiative to get these cooperatives registered.  Registered rag pickers organization should be allotted the work of collecting waste in the city parts/wards with the help of non-government organizations.

2.      While allotting work to these cooperatives to collect waste from various places in the city, the citizens should be informed of this method.  Also discussions should be held with non-government organizations, eminent citizens, Mahila Mandals and people’s representatives.

3.      Those rag pickers who have not registered in the cooperative, can also be, under exceptional circumstances, allowed to collect waste on an individual basis after registering themselves.

4.      The civic authority should give preference to the cooperatives formed by the rag pickers to collect dry waste.

5.      The shops, market places and hawking organizations should give the work of waste collection from their surroundings on an everyday basis to cooperatives of the rag pickers.  For this, at the place where the waste is generated, two separate bins should placed.  One should be for food and biodegradable waste and the other for recyclable /reusable things.  The rag pickers have to collect this waste at a particular time every day  or help should be extended that enables Door-collection by providing a ‘Ghanta gadi’ or any other need.

6.      If the city has a waste processing unit, the waste collected by the rag pickers should be used for the same or the rag pickers should have the freedom to sell it in the market.  This will provide income to the rag pickers and help improve their living standard.

7.      Civic authorities/ NGOs should issue identification cards to the registered rag pickers.  This will enable the citizens to know the registered rag pickers.

8.      The civic authority/ NGO should allot a specific place, as per the situation, and give the task to the registered rag pickers or their organizations to collect waste from 250-300 homes.

9.      The task of collecting Bio-Medical waste and polluted/ toxic waste should not be allotted to the rag pickers.  Civic authorities should make provision for collecting general waste and bio medical waste separately and storing it and disposing it and monitor it effectively.

10.  The civic authority/NGO should not engage the registered rag picker on a daily wage or a monthly wage basis for collecting waste from homes, shops and market places etc.  Also the NGOs should not function as an agent allotting jobs but work with the aim to improve the social and economic status of the rag pickers.

11.  As per full cost recovery, rag pickers or their organizations should be given the task of Door-step collection on a contractual basis.  The civic authorities and the rag pickers should mutually decide upon the amount expected on services rendered.

12.  If a civic authority already has a system of Door-step collection of waste, it is not mandatory to entrust the work to the rag pickers.  But if it is possible to allot work to the rag pickers and reduce expenses on their own workers, such efforts should be made.  

By the order and in the name of the Governor of Maharashtra  

                                                                                                B.C. Khatua
                                                                                                Secretary, Government of Maharashtra  

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner