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  Home >> Cleanliness >> Note for suggested BMC policy for Ragpickers


Note for suggested BMC policy for Ragpickers -- draft 2 

Participants: Jyoti Mhapsekar, Stree Mukti Sangathan; Poonam Hudar, FORCE; Milind Arondekar, Aakar;
Note collated by: Vinay
Date: 1 Feb 06
1. Terminology: Correct term is Waste Pickers and not Rag Pickers. Also, in due course, there should only be Waste Collectors.
As per the definition prepared by “SWACHH: Alliance of Wastepickers in India”, the term "Waste-pickers" and "Waste-pickers organisations" should be included and defined in MSW rules 2000 (Issued by Central pollution Control Board of India) as follows. “Waste pickers are those workers whose livelihood depends on informal collection, segregation and sale of scrap. It does not include poor workers such as domestic workers, watchmen, doorstep waste collectors hired by contractors, municipal workers/ safai karmacharis, all of whom may be supplementing their incomes through sale of scrap. The latter category earns salary/wages while the waste pickers do not.” 
2. Active WPOs are: (please note that data is unsubstantiated)

a) Stree Mukti Sangathana - 2000 members
b) FORCE - 1200+
c)Aakar - 700 

d) GEIS, Juhu - 700 (NGO + Commercial)
e) Apnalaya - 200
total: 5000 WPs
individual WPs: another 10,000 to 20,000. Guestimates. No survey.  

3. WPs operate in two areas -- city and dumping grounds. 
4. Issues pertaining to Dumping Grounds:
a) safety
b) child labour ban to be enforced
c) integration with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
d) facilities - toilets, water
e) ID cards
f) not to be treated as persona non grata by BMC i.e. WPs need not have to pay Rs. 400 per ghanta ghadi in Navi Mumbai. In Deonar dumping, there are gangs of men who do not allow women to collect waste from certain vehicles. There have been rape cases when women resisted. Then there are security or watchmen who charge them to take the waste out of dumping ground.  
5. At Dumping Grounds:
at Deonar: 1000 + 200 children -- SMS, FORCE are present
at Mulund: 700 incl. children -- SMS, FORCE are present
at Gorai: 400 + 100 children -- Aakar
so about 2000 in all as there is shifting between Deonar and Mulund. 
6. At Transfer Stations:
at Kurla -- SMS
at Mahalakshmi -- SMS
at Versova (closed)
at Malwani (beginning) 
7. Issues pertaining to collecting household dry waste in the City:
a) Dry waste to be handled by WPOs only and not by BMC staff (as is done in Pune)
    BMC to provide collection vehicles through contractor.
    OR WPO can take full collection contract and will also arrange for collection vehicles.   
b) sorting shed needed -- one in each 227 councillor wards. Dry waste will be taken by WPO to these sites.
c) type of waste & how it is to be dealt with:
    - recyclable - sellable - WPO will sell category-wise at sorting shed site to recyclers
    - recyclable - not-sellable due to low quantity - a) Extended Producer Responsibility - BMC to make manufacturer buy OR b)
                                                                        b) BMC to take to dumping ground where others can accumulate
    - hazardous, if any - BMC to pay per ton to WPO and pick-up; WPO to ensure that a WP does not sell it
    - bio-medical, if any - BMC to pay per ton to WPO and pick-up; WPO to ensure that a WP does not sell it
    - biodegradable, if any - composting infrastructure arrangements by BMC at sorting shed site
    - other non-recyclable - BMC to take to dumping yard; to pay or not to pay WPO?
d) How the dry waste collection works / should work at each building i.e. CHS:
    - garbage from flat is brought down by the building sweeper
    - the building sweeper or the flat owners should segregate 100% as per list in 7c) above and only the 'left-over recyclable' and 'other' should have to be picked up by WPO
    - WP to pick-up dry waste through collection van (own or contractor's) [or maybe wheelbarrow if sorting shed is nearby - avoid]
    - WP will take to sorting shed and sort and deal with waste as in 7c)
d(ii) WPO to be paid by BMC for Rs. 5 / flat or family as in Pune (to KKPKP) and Nagpur (to CBC).
d(iii)    1 WP is needed per 300-400 flats or families. (Not clear to me why this is related to number of flats i.e. quantity of garbage, and not to the number of buildings i.e. ease of pick-up. Vinay)
d(iv)    So if 60 lakh people in Mumbai live in non-slums, and if a family comprises 4 people on an average (I would have thought it is 6.. vinay), i.e. there are 15 lakh families, then around 4000 WPs are required to pick-up the dry waste in the entire city. 1000 or so WPs can be utilised for transport, sorting, etc., so the current membership strength of the WPOs is enough to service the entire city's needs. (Considering that BMC is moving towards a weekly pick-up of dry waste, the number of WPs needed will decrease even more.)
d(v)   If there is no building sweeper e.g. in chawls, then WPOs to be paid more to provide door-to-door pick-up within the chawl.
d(vi)   Slums are covered via the Dattak Vasti Yojana in which BMC pays more than Rs. 2500 / month per 1000 people. And each family also pays Rs. 10 per month.
d(vii) For the recently-installed green litter-bins in the city, WPOs have no interest as the waste there is mixed (dry + wet) and highly unpredictable in quantity and quality. So BMC should make arrangements to collect and send it to the dumping ground. The contents should not be sent to the sorting sheds as there is limited space there and so no unsegregated waste should go there. 
8. Funding:
a) It takes a WPO one year to train 10 groups of 10 WPs each at a cost of Rs. 5,000 per month to do so. BMC should fund this.
b) Various government schemes exist under poverty alleviation programs e.g.
    - SJSRY -- Swarna Jayanti S........
    - Women & Child Welfare Depts of BMC & Central Govt.
    - SC/ST/NT - Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Nomadic Tribes - scheme
    But to avail of these schemes, i) details should be made known, and ii) WPOs need staff to do the formalities.
    So BMC should have a Nodal Officer or a Facilitation Cell just to handle WPO matters.
c) There are lots of needs of WPs that have to be taken care of by a WPO. 
9. Criteria for WPO:
a) should be registered as a Coop Soc. -- legitimacy and accountability
b) office bearers should be WPs. -- bonafide

Some Questions and Answers:

  1. Q: what makes a WPO different from any org who wants to do this?   
    A: If the waste pickers have their own cooperative that will be their own business. This can  help them to be free from the clutches of middlemen and money lenders.
  2. Q: if individual WPs (who are not currently members of a WPO) form a new WPO, what will happen to the excess WPs in WPOs who do not get an area? Or is this supposed to be a permanent employment scheme for selected WPs?A: Waste picking is very dirty, hazardous and thankless job which will be done by  very needy persons . Those who are waste pickers at present do not want to continue but are compelled because of the lack of alternatives or livelihood options. How can this will be permanent employment scheme? We feel that instead of working in the filthy unhygienic atmosphere, the MSW rules are giving them an opportunity to become small entrepreneurs.                
  3. Q: what problem is this trying to solve? cleaning the city or providing livelihood to WPs? or both?   
    A: Any WPO  program has  twin objectives of addressing the problems of waste which are engulfing the urban existence in decentralized way and problems of self employed  women, engaged in the ‘menial’ tasks of cleaning up the waste.

    The Significant Contribution of waste pickers to the city is:
        1.      Reduction in municipal waste handling and transport costs
        2.      Supply of raw material to recycling factories
        3.      Saving space at dumping ground  
  4. Q:  if a WPO can afford a collection vehicle, is it really a WPO?
    A: No WPO can afford collection vehicle at present because their members are working individually and do not have any bargaining power. Waste recyclers have a very strong network and the owners are millionaires whereas the waste pickers are at bottom of this ladder and are below poverty line. Transport and storage are the major problems of WPOs. There is money in waste and so if there is a proper collective, WPOs can take loan or hire a vehicle.
  5. Q: if a WPO can't afford a collection vehicle, then why would the contractor or bmc vehicle personnel not want to make money by selling the dry waste (sorted or unsorted) and why shouldn't they? 
    A: I will ask  same question in a different way....  why should the contractor or bmc vehicle personnel  want to make money by selling the dry waste (sorted or unsorted) when they are paid for their services by MCGM. This is the struggle between organised and unoganised. Municipal employees get very decent salary and all  the benefits of organised sector. Contractor also gets transport charges from MCGM. WPs are self employed and waste picking is their sole livelihood. So NGOs and their Council should be at the side of have-nots. 
  6. Q: Will this compromise speed, reliability, consistency of pick-up?
    A: No. If properly organised .
  7. Q: In due course, is there a danger that WPs will become like railway coolies -- lazy, cheats, not-so-poor -- and subcontract their own work as some of the BMC sweepers, etc. do today? 
    A:  That can happen with any Indian without work culture. We do not want this as a permanent employment guarantee scheme. We want to develop small entrepreneurship programs for waste pickers. If they collect waste and work efficiently, they will survive, otherwise not.
  8. Q: What is the current BMC conservancy staff to do - if slowly each activity is to be done by others?
    A: BMC workers can collect wet waste . They can sweep the roads,  give services to areas which are neglected at present. If waste is segregated and dry is collected by waste pickers, the efficiency of Municipal workers will increase and they will work in better hygienic conditions.
  9. Q: The main advantage seems to be that maximum waste will get recycled as that income is significant to the WPs but not necessarily to the current collectors (BMC or contractor) who tend to sell the easily sellable costlier stuff only.
    A:  Then  there can be a convergence between the livelihood protection and upgradation needs of waste pickers and the statutory obligations of municipalities in respect of Management of urban solid waste, Poverty Alleviation Programs and the protection of  environment.

Pl comment so that all aspects can be considered by BMC and the NGO Council while framing a policy regarding Waste Pickers.

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