A separate group of garbage collectors will collect and dispose of waste from the homes of people under home quarantine. “There will be a separate vehicle to collect and transport the waste generated in the houses of home quarantined persons. The system will come into force tomorrow,” said Dnyaneshwar Molak, Joint Municipal Commissioner and in-charge of solid waste management department of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The decision has been taken to protect waste collectors and ragpickers amid the coronavirus pandemic and minimise their exposure to waste generated from the homes of people under home quarantine.
There are as many as 3,500 waste pickers in SwaCH, the autonomous cooperative of self-employed waste pickers based in Pune, which cover 8.5 lakh houses every day. However, amid the lockdown imposed in varius parts of the country, waste pickers are still going door-to-door in Pune collecting the waste, segregating dry from wet waste and selling it for recycling.
“Waste pickers have to go door-to-door lifting the waste and are exposed to unhygienic conditions. The coronavirus outbreak has put their life in risk but most of them are still performing their duty to earn their living,” said Harshad Barde of SWaCH.
Joint Municipal Commissioner Molak said the PMC has decided to provide wastepickers additional safety gear, like gloves and masks. “The PMC has assured sufficient safety equipment. It has also decided to make available additional stock,” said Barde.
He added that the civic body has appealed to residents who avail the SwaCH service to make arrangements for safety equipment for waste pickers in case there is a shortage. The corporate sector has also been asked to help provide SWaCH with safety equipment, he said. The PMC has also provided an official letter which will enable wastepickers to move unhindered as Section 144 has been imposed in the city, he said.