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Waste-pickers stage protest against Pune Municipal Corporation move to hire private agency

The waste-pickers had recently launched a drive to gather support for their cause, and 115 corporators and 30 lakh citizens have already expressed solidarity with them through signature campaigns.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: June 29, 2021 8:29:36 am
Waste-pickers stage protest against Pune Municipal Corporation move to hire private agencyWorkers of Swach cooperative protest outside the headquarters of Pune Municipal Corporation on Monday. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre)

Waste-pickers of Swach cooperative, involved in door-to-door waste collection in the city, on Monday staged an agitation outside the civic headquarters to protest against the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) plans to appoint a private agency through a tender process for waste collection.

The protest was held under the leadership of veteran social worker Baba Adhav.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule and Congress leader Mohan Joshi extended their support to the stir and addressed the protesters.

“The waste-pickers have been carrying out the door-to-door collection sincerely for so many years. However, there is an attempt to snatch their livelihood by getting private agencies through a tender process for the job,” said Adhav.

Stating that the waste-pickers had been working hard even during the pandemic, Adhav said, “What have the PMC done for them? What safety equipment was provided to them?”

Instead, he said, the PMC was trying to take away their source of income.

The waste-pickers had recently launched a drive to gather support for their cause, and 115 corporators and 30 lakh citizens have already expressed solidarity with them through signature campaigns.

The workers said that the PMC, instead of giving them a long-term contract, has been extending their old contract by one or two months while simultaneously making a bid to rope in private agencies.

Opposing the move, the workers also demanded a life insurance cover, safety equipment and special allowances for collecting waste during the pandemic.

Sule said the PMC was doing complete injustice to the waste-pickers, adding her party would fight for their cause. “The PMC spends Rs 200 crore on waste transportation while ignoring the issues of the poor waste-pickers. It is completely wrong,” she said.
She also raised questions at the way the waste is allegedly treated after collection. “The waste-pickers segregate the garbage at source and submit it to the collection system of the PMC. However, it has been noticed that the segregated waste is again mixed and dumped at the processing site,” she said.

Ganesh Bidkar, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which runs the PMC, said the corporation will not take away any work from the waste-pickers. “I assure the Swach cooperative that the waste-pickers will not be allowed to get affected (by the move),” he said.

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