The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) garbage contractors may claim to employ 100 pourakarmikas in a particular area on paper, but in reality the figure may be only around 40 pourakarmikas, alleged S. Balan, president of BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas’ Association.

He was speaking at a recent discussion, ‘Waste management: it’s not about technology, it’s about people’, jointly organised by the Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City (CIVIC), Bangalore Climate Change Initiative-Karnataka, The Fifth Estate and Grahak Shakti.

Mr. Balan highlighted the plight of pourakarmikas, who, he said, were constantly overworked as they were stretched by those who hire them. “If the civic authority does not pay attention to pourakarmikas’ concerns, the waste management plan will not work out.” Pourakarmikas had not even been paid for the months of August and September. Working 365 days a year, they are not entitled to casual leave or sick leave. “They are not given masks, gloves or even brooms,” Mr. Balan said.

Suggesting measures to put the garbage segregation plan in place, CIVIC executive trustee Kathyayini Chamaraj said the BBMP should evolve a monthly performance review system through an institutionalised committee consisting of elected representatives, officials, resident welfare associations and NGOs. Contractors should be made responsible to account for the amount of garbage collected every day and must produce slips after reaching the garbage to its final destination.

The former Minister B.K. Chandrashekar said the current situation was a result of a “crisis-driven plan” without proper preparation. While technology is important, the focus of the solid waste management plan should be more around people, he said.

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