A Swach revolution underway: Spreading from slums to Pune city
It is 6.00 am. As people get ready for yet another busy day, waste pickers of SWaCH are making their way to the various designated areas. Nitin Madane, coordinator for Prabhag no 11, is taking a quick roll call to check if all of them are present before they go to their designated lanes in Kishkinda Nagar, Kelewadi, Shastri nagar, Bhim Nagar and Jai Bhavani Nagar.
SWacH-Pune has reached out to more than a lakh homes with door-to-door collection of waste in slums. In a bid to cover more slums and remove chronic garbage spots, SWaCH and Pune Muncipal Corporation (PMC) have been conducting frequent rallies to raise awareness on segregation and waste disposal. Over 14 lakh people living in 500 slum areas of Pune are in dire need of waste management services. The topography, density of population and the kind of waste generated in slums make it difficult to collect and process the waste. These are reasons why they are often the most neglected areas.
In the last two years however, the PMC and SWaCH have been making a concerted effort to clear out the slums waste on a priority and have covered over a lakh homes.
“Initially, we faced a lot of problems in creating awareness. We had to do door-to-door canvassing. We received only 4 to 6 buckets of garbage from the entire slum.It has taken a lot of convincing to reach where we are today, for we collect 48 buckets per day,” said Nitin.
The number of waste pickers are allocated according to the number of houses in the slums. Slum-dwellers are also doing their best by segregating waste, even wrapping used sanitary pads with a newspaper.
The challenges faced by the waste pickers are many. They find the terrain physically challenging.
“We have to pull the garbage bin uphill, or in narrow lanes. The equipment gets stuck midway and making it dangerous. We begin the round at 6 am and work until 11 am,” said Manda Kadam, who has been working with SWaCH for three years. The residents pay Rs 40 per month for door-to-door garbage collection. Some residents usually can’t pay every month but they ensure that the payment is made at the end of the year, say SWaCH warriors.
Sangeeta Bangude,a resident of the Jai bhavani nagar, finds the segregation working well for her. “Earlier,I used to dump garbage into the garbage vehicle without segregation. For the past one year, I have been segregating the garbage and am surprised to find my lane cleaner.”
“We have removed all the bins from the areas and this door-to-door collection has worked well, especially because we are working with a single waste collection agency,” sanitation inspector Santosh Tatkar, Kothrud ward office.
Suresh Jagtap, deputy commissioner, solid waste management PMC, said, “This is a crucial first step towards a more efficient waste management system. We want to make this door-to-door collection system sustainable. We have been focusing on slums first and have been able to remove over a 150 chronic spots where garbage would be otherwise collected.”