IMPROVING THE INFORMAL WASTE PICKERS’ WORKING CONDITIONS THROUGH UPGRADING OF SPACES AROUND WASTE COLLECTION SITES

The project has several different components including documentation, research, design,
construction, stakeholder consultations, legal work and advocacy. After beginning this project,
it quickly became evident during research that there were many issues raised by stakeholders
on sorting sheds
1. Residents
a. Did not fully understand the need of the sorting shed. They felt that this is a
place for segregating wet waste from dry waste when in fact the sorting shed is
for fine segregation of recyclables. They said that if they were segregating dry
waste from wet waste it would eliminate the need to have a sorting shed.
b. Not In My Backyard was a sentiment they expressed quite frequently. They felt
waste should be transported to far away locations and were frequently asking
for the shed to be moved.
c. A few residents of one community said that the waste has made them sick and
also said that wastepickers had developed a “certain immunity” to waste which
prevented them from getting sick
d. The residents did not know the need for storage in sheds even for a couple of
days to reach a minimum requirement to pay for transport to the scrap shops.
2. PMC
a. The municipal staff also on some occasions echoed residents feeling that a
sorting shed is where wet waste is segregated.
b. The pune municipal corporation was unwilling to uphold the importance of
having a sorting shed if there was any opposition from even a few residents or
from the political representatives
3. The Political Representatives (elected corporators)
a. The corporators probably expressed the highest skepticism for a shed fearing
resident opposition.
b. Those who did agreed to a shed also questioned who would finance the shed
(the shed is to be built by the PMC as per the contract agreement with SWaCH).
They felt that the cooperative would finance the shed.
4. The Wastepickers
a. Waste pickers often use the shed for storage and not exclusively for sorting.
b. Storage is required for the following reasons
i. They often sort 2-3 days materials on a single day for time efficiency. If
they were to sort daily it would require the same amount of time
ii. They sell only on the days they sort or the day after.
iii. Unless each category of waste has a basic min kg it is uneconomical for
wastepickers to sell the waste
c. Errant residents who do not segregate their waste (dry and wet waste) are often
discounted by wastepickers who fear a retaliation from the residents if they raise
an issue. Residents have either looked for a different service provider (usually a
free service provided by an elected representative) or refused to pay user fee
until the wastepicker accepts mixed waste. This mixed waste makes its way to
the sorting area and brings with it rodents, flies and mosquitos. Many citizens
also take severe objection to wastepickers discounting citizens who do not
segregated but hold the wastepicker responsible to discipline such citizens.
Unfortunately, wastepickers are the most vulnerable to retaliation and not the
best suited for disciplining citizens.
Given the above considerations, Kashtakari Panchayat first spoke to several
citizens and the designs that Kasthakari Panchayat required several iterations to
take into account the variety of objections, suggestions that were made.
Sites for this Project:
I ICS COLONY, BHOSALENAGAR SHED – 3nos of wastepickers
Location and Background: Bhosale Nagar is one of the Prime real estate locations in Pune. It has
large bungalows and buildings/societies that fetch some of the highest per sq ft prices in Pune.
Approximately 3 waste pickers service this small area close to the Pune University.
There was a small sorting shed built in this neighborhood 4 years ago. Residents from the
adjoining property had always opposed it but since this was a temporary shed, SWaCH was able
to build it. However, over the years there have been many reasons for this shed to garner
opposition from the residents in this area.
– The shed was being used primarily for storage of dry waste
– The shed was also being used for temporary storage of wet waste when the PMC trucks
did pick up this waste from wastepickers
– The shed was small dingy and was infested with mosquitoes
Due to storage of waste within the shed, the wastepickers often sat outside the shed in the
open to sort materials. Often due to the storage of wet waste here, it smelled and attracted
rodents and flies. The wastepickers stored wet waste here to keep it -out of sight- and felt they
were servicing the residents in this way. There was rising unhappiness amongst the residents
and given this background, the designs were developed to ensure wastepickers got some
storage facility and sorting would be done behind a pull out screen. Extensive advocacy was
done to ensure feeder trucks came for pickup daily and at a set time.
Design Concept: Basic concept is to design with existing sorting shed materials like wooden
columns and beams in focus for reducing costs. Rodent problem – so plinth of the shed 1 foot
above ground – Entrance of the shed facing footpath and road shifted to open within sorting
area. – Sorting screens designed to stretch and lock with Steel columns whenever wastepickers
are sorting scrap material from dry waste, and unlock within the steel columns – just like a
projector screen.
Side panels made of ferrocment with glass bottles inserted within the frame of the panel to
ensure minimum opening facing foothpath while also allowing light and ventialtion for shed.
Current Situation: Several meetings were held with the residents association (muhalla
committee); designs were shared with them. Almost all of them agreed to the new designs and
thus the existing shed was demolished. However, the residents of the adjoining building
vehemently opposed the rebuilding of the shed and approached the corporator and threatened
a fast as a public demonstration of opposition. There has thus been an impasse and the waste
pickers have been moved to a location behind a green net approximately 100 meters from the
original shed. The building residents who opposed the shed believe this to be a more
appropriate site for the shed. However, this location in at a turning, and is encroaching on the
foot path.
II GANGA SATTELITE SHED – 5 nos of wastepickers
Location and Background: This area a new development typically with large societies with
several buildings in each society. SWaCH has extensive coverage of door step collection in this
area. Historically, residents have not only opposed a sorting shed but SWaCH and the model it
promotes (i.e. the integration of wastepickers in solid waste management). It has several strong
resident associations. The proposed site is close to an open sewage, however, the area is
shaded with trees. This is a small piece of land that is right outside a residential complex of 500
flats. There is an existing fibre glass shed which is now filled with waste. It has rodents and the
design is not conducive to sorting as it is closed with no ventilation and no light. There are
several pigs (due to the sewage)
Design and Concept: This concept was an inward facing shed with separate space for sorting
and storage. A common area besides the sorting space for work breaks and lunch. Plantation of
medicinal shrubs to keep mosquitoes out and to ensure cleaner breatheable air instead of the
foul smell that wastepickers are exposed to.
Current Situation: Working on getting all the appropriate permissions from the administrative
ward. The corporator has been met and he has given his support for the building of this shed.
The ward officer, the corporator and SWaCH met to discuss this shed and all parties have
agreed that this shed should be constructed.
III Kapil Malhar Shed – 40 wastepickers
Background and Location: This location is close to the Mumbai Pune Hi-way on the outside of
the city. However, there has been a steady boom in residential building complexes here. This
area called Baner, is well serviced by SWaCH. Close to a building complex called Kapil Malhar
there is an existing shed that was built 2 years ago by the PMC. But this shed is not being used
by the wastepickers for the following reasons:
– The ceiling height is very high
– There is no door, and the shed is approx. 2 feet off the ground.
– Most of the wastepickers here work with small trucks used to haul waste from large
residential complexes. There is no provision for these vehicles to get close to the shed
and deposit waste within it.
– The shed does little to protect the waste or the wastepickers from the elements.
– The shed resembled a structure were funeral pyres are burned as per the wastepickers
in this area.
So most of the wastepickers preferred to sit outside the shed rather than within the shed.
Meetings with the residents on site and at the ward office revealed a certain level of frustration
with wastepickers sitting in other locations within the administrative ward. They demanded
that SWaCH solve all the issues before remodeling the existing shed.
However, unknown to SWaCH or the resident’s association, the PMC had tendered yet another
shed as an extension to the existing structure. It was to be similar in design and construction.
Design and Concept: Similar concept of sorting space looking within the shed than outside.
Design of evaporative cooling systems; no windows directly facing street or kapil malhar
society; design of roof for better ventilation and convectional cooling of space ; larger
columnless spans designed for to make the space less claustrophobic with 40 wastepickers
using the space. It also allows for the small tempos to come inside the shed. There is thus an
entry and exit to the shed. At the moment there is a consideration of merging the new shed
design with the existing shed built by PMC.
Current Situation: Since the tender has already been passed, SWaCH is considering being an
unofficial subcontractor on this project to build a “model sorting shed.”

 

 

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