New Year’s Boost For SWaCH As Pune Municipal Corporation Seals Five-Year Deal For Waste Collection

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Pune, 28th December 2023: In a significant development, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is set to bring cheer to waste pickers associated with the ‘SWaCH’ model by signing a five-year contract with the SWaCH Pune Seva Sahakari Sanstha. This move comes as a New Year’s gift to the workers who have been part of a short-term contractual agreement, causing uncertainty in recent years.

The ‘SWaCH’ model, initiated in 2008, has been recognized globally for its efficient waste collection practices. Currently, 3,682 waste pickers, with 70 percent being women, operate through this organization, collecting wet and dry waste from 960,000 households across the city.

Citizens contribute a service fee of Rs 80 per household to these garbage collectors, who also generate income from the sale of recyclable materials. Despite two initial five-year agreements with SWaCH, recent contracts have been short-term, ranging from six months to one year, causing concerns among waste pickers.

Efforts were made to divert garbage collection work from SWaCH to other organizations, triggering protests by hundreds of garbage pickers at the municipal corporation’s doorstep. However, these attempts were thwarted.

As the current contract with SWaCH was set to expire in October, the organization initiated negotiations with the Municipal Corporation in September. Despite SWaCH’s plea for a revised agreement, a three-month extension was granted, citing flaws in the proposal.

This extension, originally set to end in January, has been preempted by the municipal administration’s decision to finalize a five-year contract with the SWaCH organization. Additionally, the number of ward coordinators will see a substantial increase from 110 to 184, with an annual provision of Rs 8 crore for their salaries, up from Rs 5 crore.

Dr. Kunal Khemnar, Additional Commissioner of the PMC, stated, “The Municipal Commissioner has approved a five-year agreement with SWaCH Pune. Also, the number of ward coordinators will be increased to 184. For this, a fund of Rs 8 crore will be given per year instead of Rs 5 crore. Soon this proposal will come for approval.”

The agreement is pending approval from the Standing Committee and the General Body. With 3,682 garbage collectors, the ‘SWaCH’ model plays a crucial role in managing 1400 to 1500 tonnes of waste, including 200 tonnes earmarked for recycling. The increased coordination and funding are expected to enhance the efficiency of waste management, benefiting both the workers and the community at large.