January 21, 2021 11:00:04 pm
Felicitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and included in the best practices toolkit under the Swachh Bharat Mission by the Centre, the door-to-door waste-collection model of Swach – cooperative of waste pickers in the city – may land in trouble as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to appoint multiple agencies through tender process instead of relying on one agency for the work.
“There has been a demand from elected representatives to involve more agencies in door-to-door waste collection. Thus, the civic administration has been directed to start the tender process for it, and till that time, the Swach organisation can continue with its work across the city,” said Hemant Rasane, chairperson of the standing committee.
Some elected representatives had urged the civic body to end the monopoly of the Swach organisation in door-to-door waste collection. A few representatives had registered complaints against the behaviour of the Swach representatives as well.
A Union government committee, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, was impressed with the initiative of door-to-door waste collection by cooperative waste pickers. In the government document, the committee had stated that the initiative has merit and strongly recommended that this system should be adopted by other small and large cities across the country.
In 2014-15, the standing committee on urban development, during the study tour to Pune, appreciated the innovative working style of the Swach organisation that provides waste management service to residents by collecting the waste at their doorsteps. It has a scope of collection, trade and waste processing while ensuring decent livelihood in the recycling industry. The Swach representatives collect the waste and segregate the dry and wet elements. The dry waste is deposited at the civic collection centre for recycling, while the wet waste is processed in housing complexes or civic facilities.
The waste pickers get the user fees from the residents while the necessary equipment is provided by the PMC. According to the Swach organisation, the initiative saves Rs 60 crore of the PMC annually which is required for expenses on manpower, transport and processing. The organisation has so far covered 70 percent of households in terms of door-to-door waste collection.
“After a successful five-year run during which the SWaCH model – known for its extreme cost effectiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness and waste pickers’ Atmanirbharta – proved to be a great example of pro-poor public-private partnership, there is an attempt to derail it and dupe people. By inviting private tenders for waste management, the standing committee has attempted to cast aspersions on the transparent, efficient and effective functioning of the cooperative of waste pickers. The move has raised a big question mark over the livelihoods, rights and Atmanirbharata of waste pickers,” the Swach cooperative of waste pickers opined.
Meanwhile, a few elected representatives are likely to oppose the PMC’s move to appoint more agencies through a tender process, citing injustice to the poor, delivering the service efficiently at affordable rates.
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