BMC defends centralised slum sanitation tender | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

BMC defends centralised slum sanitation tender

Apr 22, 2024 09:00 AM IST

BMC extends slum sanitation tender submission date to April 25 amid objections. Sanstha claims exclusion of current workers

Mumbai: In response to a writ petition filed by the Mumbai Sahar Berojgar Seva Sahakari Sanstha, a federation of 584 sanitation, waste segregation and allied workers’ societies in the city, against the civic body’s tender for centralised slum sanitation, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday submitted an affidavit defending the tender. However, due to no responses for a fifth time, the BMC has extended the submission date for bids till April 25.

File photo: A general view of Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai, India, August 1, 2023. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni/File Photo(REUTERS)
File photo: A general view of Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai, India, August 1, 2023. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni/File Photo(REUTERS)

The Sanstha had opposed the tender because it would render the current over 2,000 volunteers without a source of income, adding that the tender conditions exclude the present organisations engaged in slum sanitation — NGOs, women’s self-help groups, societies of the unemployed under the Swachh Mumbai Prabodhan Abhiyan (SMPA) scheme — from contesting their bids. Many of these organisations are a part of the petitioner Berojgar Sanstha.

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In response, the BMC’s solid waste management (SWM) department listed the difference between the previous SMPA scheme and the new one. The advantages of the incoming one are manifold; as opposed to the 8 hours of contribution the present volunteers put in without any accountability or monitoring, the workers under the new tender will be carefully chosen, will be supervised by the contractor, will be present to attend to complaints, penalised for unattended work, and will be given proper safety, tools and technology for use. The most significant change is that the terms of services will change from a ‘voluntary’ one, which paid the foot soldiers a mere 5,600 per month, to a worker contract, paid at minimum wage coming to around 20,000 per month.

The civic body also said it plans to adopt technology like a mechanised waste collection system, e-auto rickshaws, a power rodding machine to collect waste from narrow spaces, etc.

The Sanstha had also contended the tender violated a 2015 state government resolution instructing civic bodies to give work to unemployed peoples’ societies. However, the BMC highlighted this was only applicable for work under 3 lakh. The cost of the work under the new slum sanitation tender is 1,400 crore for four years, which is around 350 crore per year. Splitting this is not advisable, said the BMC.

As the new tender concerns slum sanitation at a scale as large as the entire city, the BMC contended the tender conditions and financial qualifications required are necessary, and the Berozgar Sanstha cannot claim monopoly over sanitation work.

“The terms and conditions of the said tender are fair and reasonable and put to achieve the aim and object of public interest at large,” the affidavit read.

Balasaheb Ghadge, president of the Berojgar Sanstha, objected to the BMC’s response, saying, “The BMC seems hell-bent on excluding us from this tender, despite the high court’s last suggestion that at least 30 to 40% of those who work in slum sanitation be included in the new tender’s work. Why don’t they want to give us a chance?”

The next hearing for the matter is posted on Monday, April 22.

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