Author: Adisha
•Monday, October 13, 2008
Hi All ,

Have you Ever wanted to make a change ? Matter to the world? Make a change ? Want to do something different for India, instead of just standing by and Talking about what could be different? Well, here's your chance to make a difference in the life of another....

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Milind Ranade yesterday. He brought to me the story of the contractual conservancy workers in India. I can bet that You as a Indian or other national, would Never have thought about the person who collects your garbage down the street and the inhuman conditions of his existence.

It started in 1996, with him and a colleague traveling in the bus, stuck in traffic. They looked out of the window to find the source of the putrid smells assaulting their senses and were Horrified to see three men having their lunch, sitting on TOP of the garbage heap !!! The heap was in a garbage truck used to haul the day's garbage to be disposed of . Having been involved in social work for a while, after a lot of internal discussion he and his colleague decided to follow those people to their place of work and around town. And they were further shocked by the conditions in which these men worked. Not only did they do ALL the garbage collecting, loading, unloading by hand, but they had No facilities to speak of, be it water, gloves, boots or a place to sit once they finished their rounds. On further investigations they found that the group of people, who are on contract ( ie Not direct BMC employees) are paid a mere Rs 30 for every round they make that is alloted to them in a day. The usual run is of 3 rounds a day, come hail or shine. The contractors hiring them put trucks of the lowest quality in circulation, that are on the verge of being sent to the scrap yard. And the along with that, they hire 3 people per truck to run on the rounds. These workers do 3 times the work of the BMC employees, and yet are provided with None of the amenities required by LAW. On the question of Why people are hired such, is that This is a golden egg for people at different levels of the hierarchy in our govt system which is infested with corruption, for Cheap labor that can be exploited easily.

This bit of knowledge was followed by a video that the KVSS ( His Organization ) have put together since 1996. Starting with videos of men collection all the filth by hand. Places like vegetable markets, slaughter houses, hospitals, gutters were gone through with with help of Only a fork, spade and bucket. These places from various cities and parts of Mumbai like Kurla, Dagar were full of veggie leftovers, decaying animal parts, needles, medications, hospital throw aways, even human parts ( hospitals do Not prefer using Their incinerators for the purpose of cost cutting) etc. This was followed by a clip of a man confessing to being an alcoholic so that he didn't get jitters when he worked. Dogs could be seen going through the trash side by side. Another clip of a man, going into a gutter Full of drain water to enable smoother flow without any protective gear. Next came a man who was washing his hands in the drain water flowing out of the truck's pre loaded garbage followed by close ups of sores and rashes on such working mens' bodies. Needless to say these were all appalling and nauseating sights. Then came a clip of their first Morcha that was a hunger strike for their rights in 1997, for things like water - drinking & washing which was successful after 2 days. They got the water on the pretext, Not of Rights of a worker but on Humanitarian grounds. Next came a few clips of Mr. Milind Ranade trying to make people aware of their rights. People of different languages they got together by coaxing, convincing and making aware slowly and surely. Next came a video the morcha they had recently on the August 14th, having organized more than 3000 people for the right to working boots and gloves. The ultimatum being, if they weren't provided with the right work gear, they would gift the Additional Municipal Commisioner with shoes the workers collected from their work place, ie Garbage Dump. The shouts of "Joote do ya Joote lo" resounded in the air, as men were cordoned away from the BMC office by police trucks and later arrested. This resulted in their getting the work shoes sanctioned with the bonus of a Leave on August 15th.

This was just the video. Mr. Milind also shared with us the story of the Chaddi Baniyan Morcha in 98. Also, the story of how a man died in an accident while he was on the job. Having no proof of his employment no office was willing to take ownership of the consequent expenses and payments. And that wasn't the first time. TB and other diseases are rampant as well. That's right ! They have no attendance cards, salary slip, social security, insurance slip, agreement contracts, nothing besides the injustice of being paid a meagre amount for their efforts. Women work the whole of night shift. They are like ghosts in our system. A life of hardships, illiteracy, horrid working conditions, and nothing to show but misery for it . For any contractor, having more than 20 workers license is required, so they keep exactly 18 people in employment at any time. What was specially surprising was with all the work Mr. Milind and his colleagues and volunteers have put together, politicians, government officials, all come up with ways to get out of the the Acts passed and find a loop hole to work around them. Like Now in Mumbai, Contract workers are Not payed accordingly coz by a recent Law they are called " Volunteers ". In Pimpri Chinchwadi( Pune district), govt has started making workers ( illiterate ) sign One to One contracts stating that they themselves are Contractors, and Thus they cannot claim bonuses, equal wages or permanency for those are meant for workers, not their contractors. A committee ( Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry) was formed for suggesting amendments in Labor Laws in 2000 by Vajpayee, amusingly comprised of Tata, Birla, Wadia and Mittal. No representation of the labor was present. A set of laws were created which were soon loop holed into oblivion.

None the less, Mr. Milind Ranade ( General Secretary ) and his colleagues Mr. Vijay Dalvi ( Secretary ) and Mr. Deepak Bhalerao ( President ) have along with all the people they slowly but surely brought together made immense change in the 10 years that they have been working on this cause. They have organized the working group into a union and are fighting for their rights in the courts, on the roads and now are moving onto other forums to challenge a system which has systematically exploited the bottom rung of the working class. From the top leader in the political ranks to the last contractor, everyone has their cut in this engine of corruption, that's running thanks only to the the un awareness of this un educated group who were un aware that a change Could be brought about. As a result of their prolonged battle, they have successfully helped 1200 workers in Maharashtra to become permanent employees of the BMC in 2006. Salaries have now increased from Rs. 1800 to Rs. 10,000. with facilities like leaves, bonus, provident fund, pension after retirement etc along with amenities like water at work place, rainy shoes, masks and other safety gears from the contractors. They created a concept of Bewada Register in which wives of alcoholics could come and register their complaints. Consequently, the wages of the alleged alcoholic are collected by a union representative and then distributed by their organization to the family. Thanks to the union's efforts, 35 men are now recovering alcoholics. Education is promoted and awareness of their rights, hygeine and laws is propogated. What is truly admirable is that all the work they have done is with No financial assistance from Any One person or Organization. All the money they've used is of the workers and people who Had once donated money have had their money returned to them. Currently, workers have contributed a total of Rs. 50 Lakh, creating a corpus that is to be used for the benefit of OTHERS like them. KVSS ie Kachara Vahatuk Shramik Sangh formed in 1997 . is now spreading surely across other ares like Nagpur, Amaravati, Nashik, Latur, Nanded, Parbhani and Sangali in the state of Maharashtra and is now working to start a socio political movement in all such working situations in the whole of India. They are now representing even single workers from remote villages in their litigations so as to further include any states willing to participate in the ventures.

The Organization is Now looking to create a global awareness on This topic so that they can successfully rally this movement in all the states of India. They are also on the look out for volunteers who desire to make a change, willing to commit a few years of their life to this noble cause. The thought behind total commitment for a said number of years is that One needs to Really connect to these people if any difference is to be made. Total and relentless dedication, understanding their plight and empathy is what is required from anyone willing. Also, people from the working class may find it difficult to be truly dedicated as this work involves a lot of litigation and continual correspondence. The donations they will Now be collecting will be for the sustenance of those people who will be appointed in the different cities for said purpose. The difference in their approach is that they are working towards bringing a Change, not only by creating awareness but by Challenging the system from every possible angle. Of course, with total transparency and viable discussion in place.

For pictures please view attached.

What You can do to help is one the the following -

*. Contribute monetarily any amount and in any way to their Trust called Navjeevan Samiti, that's registered under Public Charitable Trust Act. For contributions you can contact the given addresses / emails.

*. If you are or know of anyone willing to become a member of this Change, come forward to dedicate yourself to this cause.

*. They are also looking for volunteers in Any field to help create More awareness, through any form of media / organization. Any fresh ideas or help in any form is most welcome.

*. If Nothing else, Forward this mail to as many people as you can, letting more people know of this problem in India, in the hope that people out there will empathize with this working class who are an integral part of our Society !!

* Please do Not treat this as a junk mail or play pranks or jokes using this information. This is a serious issue that deserves Serious Thought & Action.

Many thanks to Mr. Milind Ranade for making Me and others like me aware of another Naked Truth of Our Corrupt Bureaucracy & Subsequent Injustice of the Unorganized Weaker Section.

Best Wishes to Him and ALL those who are working towards a Better Future for The above.
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3 Spin Offs:

On October 17, 2008 at 7:03 PM , Sanika Chitari said...

Its great to know all kinds of work and effort that people are putting into making conditions better for the neglected service class in India. There are so many issues and it really surprises me that such a country is still standing inspite of all its cripples. I remember the song "Saathi haath badhaana, ek akela thak jayega, milkar bojh uthana" when i think of such organizations. Lets all make a contribution to the effort for betterment.

On October 18, 2008 at 11:38 AM , Red Eyes said...

You are into politics, are you?

On October 18, 2008 at 12:05 PM , Adisha said...

No, red eyes. I'm not but am learning to become more aware of what's happening around us. And in the process if I can share my knowledge with others then why not ?! :)

Sanika, thanks for ur support. Hope you can let people around you also know of this neglect ...