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Ragpickers run clean revolution

Get I-cards, run a zero-garbage system

Ragpickers in Bandra are in the throes of a revolution. Not only have they successfully run a zero-garbage system in various housing societies, they’ve also received I-cards issued by a city NGO. Ragpickers from K(West), D(West) and the H (West) wards are in the centre of the change. 

The joint efforts of the Ragpickers Association and residents of 50 buildings in Bandra have borne fruit. The Sealine Building at Union Park has won the Marinisha Award conferred by the H (West) ward for running the zero-garbage system. 

The Ragpickers Association was formed by the Forum of Recycler’s Communities and Environment (FORCE) in 2000, an NGO working with 1,200 ragpickers in the city. Poonam Hudar, executive trustee of FORCE, said, “We first ran a survey of ragpickers. After this we took the BMC’s permission and issued them I-cards.” The criterion for a ragpicker to get I-card is that he should be a resident of Mumbai and must have done the work for at least three years. The H(W) ward in Bandra has also provided a shed for training ragpickers. “We get ragpickers to separate garbage into wet and dry waste. We also give them training on health, hygiene and personality development,” she said. 

“This was one way of doing a solid waste management project with them. Before the association was formed, they were being harassed by moneylenders, police and middlemen.” Tamrey, a ragpicker said, “We visit housing societies in a BMC tempo. We ask the society to give us dry garbage. after this, we segregate it in a shed provided by the BMC. We sell the dry garbage and take the money.” Supervisor Naina Salgaonkar, said, “Wet garbage is left for composting. Whatever payment is received from societies is given to the ragpickers.” 

The NGO is focusing on residents. “We believe people should co-operate. We need to instill civic sense in them. When 
people become conscious they will separate the garbage themselves,” she said.

Bharti Kakkad, resident of Deccan Co-operative Housing Society said, “Our building is not involved in composting but we segregate garbage.

Publication:DNA; Date:Dec 19, 2005; Section:ZONE; Page Number:9  

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