With coordinators for door-to-door waste collection going on strike against the non-payment of salaries, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been compelled to look for an alternative arrangement to carry out the process and address public complaints.
The civic body had signed an agreement with SWACH for five years for door-to-door waste collection. As per the agreement, the civic body was to pay the salary of coordinators. However, after the agreement expired in September last year, the civic body stopped their salaries.
“The coordinators have stopped working as they are not getting salary. However, it has not affected the waste collection drive at the ground level but is likely to increase public complaints which were usually addressed by coordinators,” said Suresh Jagtap, Joint Municipal Commissioner.
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He said the civic body had urged SWACH to make door-to-door waste collection a self-sustainable model in five years, adding, there was no reason for PMC to pay for salaries of coordinators appointed by SWACH.
To make the model sustainable, the PMC had allowed SWACH to charge each household Rs 30 per month for ragpickers with an increase of Rs 5 every year.
“The civic administration will appoint people on contract to take up the responsibility untill there is no other provision for the coordinator’s job,” said Jagtap.
He added, “The civic administration is in process of extending the agreement with SWACH. The administration has to resolve certain issues keeping in mind the past experiences and include new provisions in the agreement to make the waste collection more effective.”
He said the administration is also planning to rope in more agencies for the job as SWACH has not been able to add members to extend the door-to-door waste collection througout the city. He, however, did not give the time frame for executing the agreement saying it would need approval of the standing committee and the general body.
Laxmi Narayan of SWACH said the organisation is carrying out the work at ground level.
“Ragpickers will continue to work as usual. However, SWACH will no longer coordinate as it is not their responsibility now,” she said.
She said the civic body has failed to clear pending dues to SWACH. They have also not been able to not provide equipment for waste collection and safety gears for ragpickers as promised.