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All waste is not waste

An autonomous enterprise, SWaCH provides front-end waste management services, Savita Narayan reports

SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection and Handling)—the institutional outcome of the trade union Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat—is authorised by the Pune Municipal Corporation to manage waste right from collection at the door-step to sustainable solid waste management. It effectively merges the interests of the waste-picker in increasing livelihood, the household in waste disposal and the municipality in waste management. SWaCH is India’s first wholly-owned cooperative of self employed waste-pickers and other urban poor.

About 3,000 waste-pickers from SWaCH reach 0.25 million Pune households every day. Organic, kitchen waste is composted (70%), waste-pickers sell plastic, paper, etc as scrap (15%) and the remainder is sent to the landfill at Urali (15%). “In 2000, Municipal Solid Waste Rules came into force due to plague in Surat and the perseverance of RTI activists. Municipalities were bound to manage waste. In Pune, putting thousands of existing waste-pickers out of a job was not considered the solution. They need flexible timings due to family commitments. Our model ensures that women have ownership of the waste. The family segregates it and gets paid daily. If we privatise, households will go without pay while the private collector gets paid by the tonne,” says Malati Gadgil, CEO, SWaCH.

SWaCH believes the waste-picker must be co-opted into the process, not removed from it. She will work only when it’s worth her while—earning from user fees and the sale proceeds of waste. SWaCH ensures receipt of user fee from households and regularises her attendance. Waste-pickers reduce the burden on the municipality; lessen transportation, land filling and disposal costs. However, waste-pickers figure very low on the social scale and face brutality by the police and the public. Nearly 95% are illiterate; many are from dysfunctional homes. They garner skills and knowledge to earn minimum rates.

Low mobility workers such as the elderly and mothers of infants can supplement their income by selling second-hand clothes in vastis. In 1989, SWaCH organised the waste- pickers, providing a photo ID that offered them much-needed dignity and authorisation. SWaCH has held sensitivity classes for the police. The Jana Arogya policy offers medical coverage up to Rs5,000. An LIC policy, partly paid for by the waste-pickers, is available. The education of waste-pickers’ children is important. SWaCH does not condone school-age children picking waste. The photo passes of mothers are confiscated for non-compliance. “It’s an uphill task generating awareness that child labour is unacceptable when even movies like Kahaani glorify it,” says Malati Gadgil.

Waste-pickers want their children to study. The trade union offers scholarships, pays for books and has a free loan scheme for higher education. E-waste management rules of 2011 specify the way in which potentially extremely hazardous substances are to be handled. SWaCH offers training in collection, sorting and some dismantling of such waste which fetches additional income. The Pune model works with the participation of waste-pickers, SWaCH, citizens and the municipality nagar sevak. The waste-picker puts back about 5% of the user fee into SWaCH, which also raises funds independently. The municipality pays for semi-formal staff in SWaCH and for equipment: push carts, buckets, coats, I-cards.

SWaCH imparts training such as driving tempos and cycles, and holds  song workshops, English speaking classes and yoga. Waste-pickers have been to conferences globally as public speakers. A half-hour film on client interaction trains these women who live and work in rough public areas. Improving the livelihood of waste-pickers is Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of dignity of labour in practice. SWaCH welcomes volunteers to the organisation. Cheques made out to Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat for donations to SWaCH can be sent to the address alongside.

SWaCH Pune Seva Sahakari Sanstha Maryadi

Kothrud Kachara Depot,
Kothrud, Pune-411 038
Mob: 9765999500
E-mail: [email protected]




4 years ago

sustainable future = decentralisation and localisation and community driven - i.e. away from govt control. govt shud only act as custodians and regulators. nothing more. get rid of the fake bloated govt machinery first.

vasanthi narayan

4 years ago

SWaCH is doing yoeman service taking care of waste management and concurrently helping those involved in the project. Other cities need to learn from this enterprise and follow in their footsteps .
The author has done well to enlighten the readers on this subject

Short upmove possible in the second half of the week: Weekly Market Report

Nifty may find support at around 4,880

The market settled lower as macro economic headwinds continued to weigh on the investors. While the finance minister made some amendments in the Finance Bill 2012, a slowdown in exports in April and March IIP contracting 3.5% led the market lower for four of the five trading session in the week, making it the third weekly fall in a row. All eyes will now be on the inflation data for April, which will be announced on Monday.

A smart recovery after the finance minister announced that implementation of the GAAR provisions would take place from the next fiscal pushed the market higher on Monday. However, dismal economic indicators kept the market in the red on the other trading days.

The market closed 3% lower in the week with the Sensex down 538 points to 16,293 and the Nifty at 4,929, a cut of 158 points. While Nifty may find support at around 4,880, the benchmarks are likely to see some gains in the second half of the week.

While the BSE Consumer Durables index settled flat, all others were in the negative. The top losers were BSE Power (down 5%) and BSE IT (down 4%).

Bajaj Auto (up 4%), BHEL and DLF (up 3% each) were the key Sensex gainers in the week. the major losers were Tata Power (down 8%), State Bank of India, Hero MotoCorp (down 7% each), Sterlite Industries (down 6%) and Jindal Steel & Power (down 5%).

The Nifty toppers were BPCL (up 7%), IDFC (up 6%), Bajaj Auto (up 4%), BHEL and DLF (up 3% each). Jaiprakash Associates (down 12%), Punjab National Bank, Tata Power, SBI and Hero MotoCorp (down 7% each) settled at the bottom of the index.

Bowing to pressure, the finance minister on Monday announced a slew of measures to provide relief to the jewellery sector and postponed implementation of the general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) by one year, but offered no concessions to Vodafone involved in tax dispute.

India's export growth dropped to 3.2% in April, but a sharp deceleration in import expansion resulted in trade deficit narrowing to $13.2 billion, the lowest in a year.

Industrial production declined by 3.5% in March compared to 9.4% in the corresponding previous month, mainly on account of contraction in manufacturing and mining output.
IIP for 2011-12 had been dismal at 2.8% as compared to 8.2% in previous fiscal due de-growth in mining at 2% and slower 2.9% growth in manufacturing.

Commenting on the data, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "The IIP figures are disappointing... Domestic investment recovery remains frail. It will take some more time for interest cost to come down."

On the global front, the US markets closed down for the second week in a row, mainly on JP Morgan's trading loss and the unending problems in Europe. Meanwhile, socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos failed to form a new coalition government in Greece, fuelling speculations of fresh elections in the debt-ridden country.


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