With nearly 2,500 children of wastepickers from the district, the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat has been fighting for the rights of these children for scholarships. Even as they protested on January 20 outside the Zilla Parishad building, there has been no movement from the authorities to disburse these scholarships.
The wastepickers have been demanding enrollment of their children into the scholarship scheme ‘Prematriculation Scholarship for children of those engaged in Unclean Occupations’.
As per the records of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, there are as many as 2,500 children of wastepickers, including children of sweepers, tanners and flayers who are eligible for the scholarship.
The KKPKP has pointed out that since the inclusion of wastepickers in the scheme in May 2013, not a single child of wastepickers from Pune district has received this money. In the academic year 2014-15, only 540 forms were filled and they have observed that most schools continue to be ignorant about the scheme and there is a total lack of motivation to fill out the forms online.
The KKPKP has pointed out that in 2015-16, only 189 forms have been filled out to date. Many schools claim that the deadline for the application process has not been met.
“Many other districts of the state have already disbursed money to the children for the current year, but Pune is far behind,” said members of KKPKP.
In December, a delegation of wastepickers had met Sanjay Kadam, Social Welfare Officer at Pune ZP, who had committed to the money being deposited into the children’s account in a week.
He had also committed to holding camps to continue the enrollment process.
Though one month later, not a single child has received the money.
Addressing her colleagues, Malan Mane, a wastepicker from Vishrantawadi, said that within the same school, one child’s application was filled out while those of others were rejected.
She further raised the issue of the school asking for income and caste certificates. The delegation demanded that the officer address the issue.
“This is a typical case of lack of accountability where a public servant refuses to respond to the people whom they are appointed to serve. Last month, a delegation met the officer in his office but he has not kept his word,” said Mane.