Sixty representatives of the Alliance of Indian Wastepickers (AIW),Maharashtra,met to discuss the inclusion of wastepickers in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) following the Union cabinet approved the long-pending demand of including ragpickers/wastepickers in RSBY,a flagship scheme of the UPA. The move is likely to benefit around 2 lakh wastepickers across the state.
While working,we often get hurt. All this is normal in our line of work while we reduce the waste of the city, said Shivubai,a wastepicker from Pune.
Large numbers of Dalit women are engaged in wastepicking at the bottom of the recycling pyramid. The RSBY is likely to bring relief to these workers.
Researcher and health activist Sujata Gothoskar said it was important for the government to adopt universal healthcare system that provides logical and affordable healthcare to all. However,until there is such a systemic change,arrangements should be made to ensure the most deserving get access to basic services,she added.
Talking about withdrawal of RSBY from some districts where the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Arogya Yojana (RGJAY) has been implemented on a pilot basis,Poornima Chikarmane of SNDT University said,Given the nature of work,wastepickers need access to primary,secondary as well as tertiary healthcare. The mention of wastepicking as an occupational group in the scheme by the government is recognition of their contribution. Chikarmane was part of the task force that brought about the ruling stipulating inclusion of certain occupational groups in RSBY.
AIW is a network of over 30 organisations across the country working for the rights of wastepickers. Among those present at the meet included representatives from Aakar,Stree Mukti Sanghathana,Parisar Bhagini,Force,Apnalaya ,Learn (Mumbai),Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat and Swach (Pune),Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (Ahmednagar),Sholapur ,Kagad Kach Patra Kamgar Sanghathana.