MAY 2016: 1-15 fortnightly
It is arguable that the PDS is even more important than MGNREGS as a tool of drought relief. Monthly food rations under the PDS are more regular and predictable than MGNREGS work. They also cover a much larger fraction of the rural population — 75 per cent under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). A well-managed PDS is a major safeguard against hunger and starvation.
I write this as the country once again reels under crippling drought. But this drought is different. In the 1990s, it was the drought of a poor India. This 2016 drought is of richer and more water-guzzling India. This classless drought makes for a crisis that is more severe and solutions more complex. But it is also clear that drought in India is not a new phenomenon, nor is it going away soon. The fact is that the severity and intensity of drought is not about lack of rainfall, it is about the lack of planning, foresight and criminal neglect. Drought is man-made. Let's be clear about this.
In the decade of 2000, there was rain - years of deficiency were fewer - and there were government programmes designed to build water structures across the country. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNRES) millions of checkdams, ponds and other structures were even constructed. But as the intention was not to fight against drought, only provide employment, the impact of this labour has never shown up in the country's waterline. The structures in most cases were holes in the ground - that quickly filled up with soil by the next season.
But this is not the only reason for today's water desperation: the fact is that India has prospered over these decades. This means that there is more water to be used and even less to be saved for times of scarcity.
In today's India, water demand has increased manifold. Today, cities drag water from miles away for their consumption. Industries, including power plants, take what they can from where they can. The water they use is returned as sewage or waste water. Then farmers grow commercial crops - from sugarcane to banana. They dig deeper and deeper into the ground to pump water for their irrigation needs.
This modern day drought of rich India has to be combined also with another development: climate change. The fact is that rain is becoming even more variable, unseasonal and extreme. This will only exacerbate the crisis. It is time we understood that as drought is man-made, it does not have to stay. It can be reversed. It can be managed. But then we really need to get our act together.
What needs to be done is as follows: First, do everything we can to augment water resources - catch every drop of water; store it; recharge groundwater. To do this we need to build millions more structures, but this time based on planning for water and not just employment. This means being deliberate and purposeful. It also means giving people the right to plan where to locate the water body and the right to manage it for their need. Today, invariably, the land on which the water body is built belongs to one department and the land from where the water will be harvested and channels from where the water will be brought belong to another person or even another government department.
Second, revise and update the drought code. It is not as if the richer parts of the world do not have droughts - Australia and California have gone through years of water scarcity. But their governments respond by shutting off all non-essential water use from watering lawns to hosing down cars and much more. This is what is needed in India.
Third, obsessively work to secure water in all times. This means insisting on water codes for everyday India. We need to reduce water usage in all sectors - from agriculture, urban to industry. This means benchmarking this use and setting targets for reduced consumption year on year. It would mean doing everything from introducing water efficient fixtures to promoting water-frugal foods. It means making our war against drought permanent. Only then will drought not become permanent.
(4 ) One missed opportunity, 330 million drought-stricken Indians
Now contrast with this. Just the simple richness of rainwater availability that few of us realise because of the speed with which water, the world’s most fluid substance, disappears. Imagine you had a hectare of land in Barmer in Rajasthan, one of India’s driest places, and you received 100 mm of water in a year, common even for this area. That means that you received as much as one million litres of water —enough to meet drinking and cooking water needs of 182 people at a liberal 15 litres per day. Even if you are not able to capture all that water—this would depend on the nature of rainfall events and type of runoff surface, among other factors —you could still, even with rudimentary technology, capture at least half a million litres a year.
In 1991, India had 587,226 inhabited villages with a total population of 629 million giving us an average population of 1,071 persons per village, up from 942 persons in 1981. Let us, therefore, assume that the average population of an Indian village today is about 1,200. India’s average annual rainfall is about 1,170 mm.
If even only half of this water can be captured, though with technology inputs this can be greatly increased, an average Indian village needs 1.12 hectares to capture 6.57 million litres of water it will use in a year for cooking and drinking. If there is a drought and rainfall levels dip to half the normal, the land required would rise to a mere 2.24 hectares. The amount of land needed to meet the drinking water needs of an average village will vary from 0.10 hectares in Arunachal Pradesh (average population 236) where villages are small and rainfall high to 8.46 hectares in Delhi where villages are big (average population 4769) and rainfall is low. In Rajasthan, the land required will vary from 1.68-3.64 hectares in different meteorological regions and, in Gujarat, it will vary from 1.72- 3.30 hectares (see table: Every village in India can meet its own water needs). And, of course, any more water the villagers catch can go for irrigation.
Does this sound like an impossible task? Is there any village that does not have this land availability? India’s total land area is over 300 million hectares. Let us assume that India’s 587,000 villages can harvest the runoff from 200 million hectares of land, excluding inaccessible forest areas, high mountains and other uninhabited terrains, that still gives every village on an average access to 340 hectares or a rainfall endowment of 3.75 billion litres of water. These calculations show the potential of rainwater harvesting is enormous and undeniable. There is just no reason whatsoever for thirst in India.
Therefore, it is possible to drought proof the entire country. Not just drinking water, most of India’s agricultural fields should also be able to get some irrigation water to grow less water-intensive crops every year through rainwater harvesting.
Although the state government claims it has distributed nearly Rs 4,000 crore as relief to farmers who lost their crop, many here say they have not received the money. The state's decision to send it directly to bank accounts is a major obstacle for those who have no access to banks. State agriculture minister Eknath Khadse claims, "By now 90% of the farmers have received the money. Those without accounts can open them under our Jan Dhan scheme."
Cut in MNREGA work?
Villages across this belt complain of the lack of work under the rural job security scheme MNREGA, which could have otherwise have helped stem migration. Beed district has 8 lakh registered workers but at the moment, only 9,291 are employed.
"This season, we have not been able to get any MNREGA work in the village," says Ganesh Sawant, the
sarpanch of Ranjani village in Georai.
However, officials say MNREGA works have not reduced. "Sugarcane cutting is a traditional occupation. It pays more than MNREGA work and people are able to get a hefty advance, so they prefer it," says agriculture minister Khadse.
Cane cutters have access to advance payments between Rs 30,000-60,000 at the beginning of the season, which helps many settle pending debts. The work fetches roughly Rs 300-400 per day for a husband and wife team, much higher than MNREGA wages.
However, union leader Andhale says once cane workers return to their villages in April and May, jobs on MNREGA will be their only lifeline. "It's important for more jobs to be generated by then," he says.
The study shows that droughts are not a result of just climatic conditions, but also man-made. "The composite map is aimed at giving an overall scenario for drought in the region. The policies have to consider all of them together, an effort which has not been made earlier," says Anil K Gupta, associate professor at NIDM and principal investigator of the study.
NIDM undertook the study jointly with Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) to understand the drought patterns and differential role of mitigation strategies in Bundelkhand in order to suggest strategies for future.
The research report—Vunerability Assessment and mitigation anlysis for drought in Bundelkhand region—threw up many more issues. It is to be noted that Bundelkhand comprises 13 districts—seven in Uttar Pradesh (Jhansi, Jalaun, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda and Chitrakut) and six in Madhya Pradesh (Datia, Tikamgarh, Chattarpur, Damoh, Sagar and Panna). It covers an area of 7.08 million hectares (ha).
The report talks of three kinds of droughts—meteorological, agricultural and hydrological.
Gupta says the most important finding that has emerged from the study is about anomalies between different kinds of droughts. "The usual pattern is that first the meteorological drought—rainfall much below average—happens. It leads to agricultural drought in the same year because India depends on monsoons for agricultural production. If the meteorological drought continues for the second consecutive year, then the hydrological drought—below average water availability—occurs," says Gupta. "We have collected evidence that in Bundelkhand this pattern [cycle of drought] has been broken many times, indicating that there are lapses in the efforts made by the authorities to provide relief," says Gupta. For instance, reasons for lack of drinking water in 2011 were man-made as rainfall was ample.
In 2011, all the 13 districts of the region received above average rainfall. According to the state meteorology department, Banda district received 252.4 mm rainfall (214 per cent above normal) between June 1 and June 30. During the same period, Hamirpur recorded 253.9 mm rains (334 per cent above normal), Jalaun 266 mm (153 per cent above normal), Jhansi 266.1 mm (203 per cent above normal) and Mahoba recorded 185.2 mm rains (210 per cent above normal). Lalitpur was under the threat of floods with 644 mm rains which was 5.8 times (588 per cent) more than normal for the district.
However, in the same year, residents of Bundelkhand experienced acute scarcity of water for agricultural and domestic use. "In other words, in that very year people faced hydrological drought in the region," says Gupta. He says systems have to put in place to conserve water during such times to be used in times of scarcity.
Funds not utilized
The expenditure from Bundelkhand package by National Rainfed Area Authority, announced in 2007 for drought mitigation strategies, speaks for itself. Till November 2012, NRAA had received confirmation for completion of works worth Rs 179 crore out of Rs 1,005 crore allocated. This amounts to only 18 per cent of the total allocated fund.
Further, as on March 31, 2013, Madhya Pradesh spent 58.4 per cent and Uttar Pradesh 43.89 per cent of the funds. Rs 1,400 crore was allocated for the financial year 2013-14 under the package; how much of the funds were utilised and in what manner is still being ascertained.
History of neglect
J S Samra, CEO of NRAA, says that the situation in Bundelkhand has to be seen in the historical context of the region. "This has been a neglected area. After the revolt of 1857, which primarily covered this region, the British neglected development of the region as a punishment to the people. Even after Independence, the region had a number of dacoits which hampered development. Quality services could not be maintained for these reasons," says Samra. He says that both the states, treat posting of government officials to Bundelkhand as punishment postings.
"This should change. To motivate good officers to take up challenging job like managing a drought-prone region, the governments should provide incentives," adds Samra. He says the package is being implemented and a third party is monitoring the work. "They will come out with a mid-term performance report in few months," he adds.
Climate change impacts
However, climate change is not to be ignored. The climatic modelling experiments by United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has predicted that temperatures are likely to be higher by about 2 to 3.5°C in Bundelkhand region by the end of this century. The impacts of drought years are already visible. In the past four to five years, there has been news of mass migration, starvation deaths, farmer suicides and even the “mortgaging” of women.
The report has made following recommendations:
of cotton. The sale price fixed by the government is Rs 4,000. Even without a drought, farmers were in debt," Tiwari said.
"The farm crisis preceded our government. We have announced a series of measures which will soon have an impact," said state agriculture minister Eknath Khadse. The state hopes to boost water conservation
through its Jalyukta Shivar Yojana. It has also drafted an action plan which includes restructuring bank loans and waiving loans worth Rs 171 crore from moneylenders. The state has also set up a committee to
monitor vulnerable families and planned schemes to aid education and medical treatment for families of farmers.
SOlution: "Increased water conservation and promoting cultivation of less water-intensive crops can go a long way towards coping with the crisis." A farmer in drought-hit Ahmedabad.
Government statistics have hardly shown any increase in the total net irrigated area, which has been hovering around 63 million hectares and constitutes only 45 per cent of the total area sown in the country. Some improvement in irrigation intensity has taken place in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in recent years. But it appears to be insignificant in view of a massive increase in real public investment in major, medium and minor irrigation from Rs.235 billion in 2004-05 to Rs.309 billion in 2013-14. While the capital expenditure in major projects increased by 3.5 times, the investment in minor irrigation increased by 2.5 times only. A virtually stagnancy in irrigated area — especially of the area under canal irrigation — raises concerns about the efficiency of the ongoing investments and the quantum of investment that is further required to scale up area under irrigation.
While the India Meteorological Department has forecast above average rainfall during the upcoming South-West monsoon and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed confidence that agriculture would withstand the ongoing drought, the situation calls for long-term solutions. Increased water conservation and promoting cultivation of less water-intensive crops can go a long way towards coping with the crisis. The other remedial option could be to adopt drought-resistant crop varieties as has been done in some parts of Odisha for paddy/rice through the help of the International Rice Research Institute. This can maintain productivity and income of the farmers and also ensure price stability to the consumers. It is important for the government to sustain an increased investment in irrigation but at the same time gear up towards faster completion of the ongoing projects.
- Building on local knowledge of climate vulnerability and responses: To start with, it helps to look at why farmers and pastoralists are vulnerable to climate impacts and what they are doing in response. Communities, households and individuals have a wealth of knowledge that can be shared about the practices and ways in which they respond. Adaptation initiatives that build on local knowledge and integrate scientific findings have a higher chance of leading to sustained and effective adaptation.
- Including climate information: Climate information that is tailored to users’ needs can help vulnerable farmers make better decisions. But this needs to be transparent, high quality and context specific, and must deal with current and expected climate trends and their impact. This kind of information is also needed by people who work with these vulnerable groups, such as extension officers, local and national governments, and NGO practitioners.
- Collaborative learning and decision-making: If planning and decisions allow for mutual learning between scientists, decision-makers and local communities, all groups gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the limits and uncertainties about climate information, and of the types of adaptation responses that might succeed. Co-production of knowledge also supports the use of climate information in the local context and cooperative development of possible solutions.
- What makes different groups of people vulnerable, not only to climate risks but to other socioeconomic factors? How serious are the risks and when will they occur? Are there hidden opportunities?
- Will it be hotter or colder, wetter or drier? Will there be more extreme events? Will these changes further exacerbate the risks and vulnerabilities identified above?
- What responses could be developed? Which are the most urgent, given the medium and high risks? For which groups of people? Are the proposed options robust in the face of uncertainty? Are they politically and socially acceptable, and/or financially feasible?
People have been making floating gardens in this tiny region of 25 square kilometres, covering parts of Gopalganj, Barisal and Pirojpur districts, for ages, some say for 300-400 years. Much like the floating gardens in Kashmir’s Dal lake or Myanmar’s Inle lake. Then, around the turn of the last century, came the big bang moment of floating garden in Bangladesh. In the past 15 years, several non-profits have taken it to all over the country. Haseeb Md Irfan-ullah, an aquatic ecologist and development practitioner, calls it a case of mass fascination. He has been involved in promoting floating farms for a decade.
The government of Bangladesh saw in this traditional practice a way to adapt to the changing climate that is likely to result in prolonged floods and water-logging in the country. In 2013, it approved US $1.6 million to take it up on a massive scale involving 12,000 families in eight districts.
While the government’s approach is commercial, involving big and mid-level farmers, NGOs have promoted floating farms to overcome starvation and poverty. They have involved landless people and marginal farmers. Like Rajeda Khatun of Hariabari village. She lives by the Gumani river in the Chalan Beel region, a large marshy depression north-west of Dhaka. She has a husband, two children and little land. “We used to work as labourers in other people’s houses. For a day’s work I would get 120 taka (Rs 100) but work was available for only five-six days in a month,” she says, sitting inside a duck coop the size of a storeroom floating on the Gumani in Pabna district.
The coop is part of a floating garden with a twist—it combines poultry and fishery with farming. Five families take care of this farm that functions round the year. “Now I spend two hours a day here, taking care of the ducks and fish,” Khatun says, wrapping a shawl tightly around her. Ano-ther woman wades through waist-high water to tend egg plants in blue pots and country beans hugging bamboo structures. “Together we make a profit of one lakh taka (Rs 85,800) in a year from this farm,” Khatun says. With a little extra income she could for the first time lease 20 decimal (800 sq m) land.
This floating farm is part of a pilot project launched by the Natore-based non-profit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha. In the past three years Shidhulai has built 45 such units on the Gumani, Atrai and Barnoi rivers. It plans to create another 400 units in the next three years.
International organisations IUCN and CARE have also trained about 2,000 families in floating farming in 10 districts since 2007. Another non-profit Practical Action has trained some 800 families displaced by river erosion and living on embankments along the Brahmaputra in the north-west of the country.
To understand the appeal of floating gardens one has to look at the topographical map of Bangladesh. It is a delta of large rivers descending from the Himalayas that are constantly shaping it like moving fingers in sand. Eighty per cent of the country is floodplains. And when the rivers swell in monsoons, they engulf large swathes of the country, at times two-thirds of it. Several parts of Bangladesh remain submerged for three to eight months, leaving millions of people with little land to grow food on.
Add to this the fact that Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries and also among the most vulnerable to climate change as recognised by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. Scientists warn that the rising sea level will reduce the gradient of rivers, slowing down the drainage to the sea, thus, increasing the risk of floods and water-logging. They also predict that higher rainfall in the Ganga-Meghna-Brahmaputra river basins and greater glacier melt in the Himalayas may result in more devastating floods.
There is no getting away from water in this country and the pressure on land is going to be immense. Planners and development practitioners understand this very well. “In Bangladesh, 48 per cent of the people are landless and one-fifth of the country is under water. That’s why we thought floating garden is a good idea,” says Mohammed Rezwan, the founder of Shidhulai.
But introducing floating farm to a new area is easier said than done. Shidhulai went through rounds of trial and error for years to evolve a system that worked in Chalan Beel. “We tried using water hyacinth. It could not withstand heavy rains,” says Rezwan. “Then we switched to plastic pots filled with soil, ash and manure.” These floating farms are very different from the traditional ones. The entire unit floats on empty drums and a tightly knitted bamboo platform rather than an organic bed. Other NGOs have also experimented with the techniques, material and crops to adapt to new areas.
Down south where floating farming is traditionally done, raising vegetable seedlings on floating beds is a thriving business. People sell the seedlings to brokers or farmers who grow vegetables on a commercial scale for urban markets like Dhaka. In the north, there is hardly any market for seedlings as water stagnation is not that prolonged, says Irfanullah, a programme coordinator with IUCN. In newer areas farmers mostly grow vegetables for local consumption. Absence of organised agro-business probably explains why many farmers lose interest in floating gardens once the promoting agency withdraws. “I have seen in the north-west when a project is supporting the initiative people show interest but very few continue with their own money,” says Naz- mul Islam Chowdhury, head of the extreme poverty programme of Practical Action.
कृषि और किसानी
cases were directly linked to unseasonal rains and hailstorms," Mr Khadse said.
Even though lakhs of landless agricultural workers, cane cutters and marginal farmers are desperately looking for work, the number of individuals who actually got work under MGNREGA last year was just 70,000 people or fewer in each district. The only exception was in Beed, where 1.19 lakh individual workers got work. This month, when demand is at its peak, the average figure in each district is just 4,000. Officials tell you, off the record, that the main reason is the Central government’s refusal to release adequate funds. For the State as a whole, the funds from the Centre in 2015-2016 have been less, by Rs.212 crore, than what was spent in the pre-drought year of 2012-2013.
Prabhakar Bhumre is a farmer from Jalna district. Like many others here, he was a fruit grower with 400 orange trees. He had taken a loan of Rs.2 lakh over two years. But in spite of the large amounts he paid to private companies for water to be supplied, he could not save his trees from drying up. Ultimately, he had to cut them down. His is not an isolated case. In the district, orange trees which were planted over 9,000 hectares — which is more than a third of the land where these trees have been planted — have had to be cut down. But there is little government help. Nor have the majority of fruit growers in the region received any compensation. On the contrary, banks are sending notices to farmers like Mr. Bhumre across Marathwada demanding repayment. The despair is palpable and 325 farmers have committed suicide in this region since January this year.
The cattle shelters set up under a government scheme could have provided some relief. But the government outsourced them to a variety of registered cooperatives. In Beed district, where the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde’s two daughters fought and won the election, there are 137 such cow shelters, the highest in the region. One of the bigger shelters, in Kej, with 1,400 animals, is run by the Jai Bajrang Bali society which has not received funds since it started in March. According to the supervisor, the running cost is close to Rs.1 lakh a day.
While the flagging off of a water train to Latur has had a blaze of publicity, the reality is that the 3,000 tankers provided in the region are woefully inadequate. There is no regulation of the price of water being charged by private companies. It is Rs.1,000 for a 3,000-litre tanker, double the amount it costs in Delhi. It is an open secret that many of these private water companies have close contacts with different political leaders of the area, which is the reason why no one dares touch them.
Making Nutrient Cycling Practical
Reversing the Pressure to Leave Farming
Beyond Jodhpur, districts of western Rajasthan suffer from acute drinking water shortages as they receive only about 200 mm of rainfall per year. Water-restoring structures such as the rainwater tanks and talabs have fallen into disuse given the over-reliance on the government.
अनुसंधान केंद्र के मुख्य समन्वयक सुनील मनसिंघका ने बताया कि इस नवविकसित दवा से फसलों के विकास में चार गुना तक की वृद्धि संभव है। यह विषाणु एवं फंफूद से फसलों की रक्षा करने के अलावा पौधों की प्रतिरोधक क्षमता और मिट्टी की गुणवत्ता को बढ़ाने में सहायक है। उनके मुताबिक कामधेनु कीटनियंत्रक का निर्माण गोमूत्र, नीम और लहसुन को मिलाकर किया गया है। इसके अलावा तीनों अवयवों को अलग-अलग या एक-दूसरे में मिलाकर भी कीटनाशक दवाओं का विकास किया गया है। सुनील का दावा है कि इस कीटनाशक के इस्तेमाल से रासायनिक दवाओं पर आने वाले खर्च को 50 हजार करोड़ रुपये मूल्य तक कम किया जा सकेगा।
1996 में स्थापित जीवीएके ने कामधेनु कीट नियंत्रक दवा का विकास राष्ट्रीय वनस्पति अनुसंधान संस्थान और सीएसआइआर [लखनऊ] के साथ मिलकर किया है। इससे पूर्व जीवीएके द्वारा विकसित कामधेनु अर्क को एंटीबायोटिक्स और कैंसर प्रतिरोधी दवा के रूप में अमेरिकी पेटेंट हासिल हो चुका है।
- Source segregation: The rules prescribe source segregation in 3 categories: Dry, Wet & Hazardous Waste. Instead of streamlining sanitary waste separately, they suggest that waste generators ‘wrap securely the used sanitary waste like diapers, sanitary pads etc., in the pouches provided by the manufacturers or brand owners of these products or in a suitable wrapping material as instructed by the local authorities and shall place the same in the bin meant for dry waste or non- bio-degradable waste.’ This is unacceptable, sanitary waste should be considered a separate stream and should not be mixed up with dry waste. As we know dry waste will be sorted by wastepickers in secondary collection center or material recovery facility, in case of Bengaluru- those are termed as Kartvavya/ neighbourhood dry waste collection centers. If sanitary waste is mixed with dry waste, while sorting wastepickers will be forced to touch the human excreta and other biological waste, which is a violation of prohibition of manual scavenging act. Therefore, while framing state and city plans collection of sanitary waste should be separately streamlined as is done in Bengaluru through the enforcement of 2 bin 1 bag. 2 bins for organic waste and sanitary/reject waste respectively and bag for dry waste. Karnataka High in its order given on 16th December, 2015 has also directed the implementation of 2 bin 1 bag concept at household level. For reference- definitions of dry, biodegradable and hazardous waste have been provided here: “dry waste” means waste other than bio-degradable waste and inert street sweepings and includes recyclable and non-recyclable waste, combustible waste and sanitary napkin and diapers, etc; “biodegradable waste ” means any organic material that can be degraded by micro-organisms into simpler stable compounds; “domestic hazardous waste” means discarded paint drums, pesticide cans, CFL bulbs, tube lights, expired medicines, broken mercury thermometers, used batteries, used needles and syringes and contaminated gauge, etc., generated at the household level.
- Removal of quantity from definition of Bulk Generator: “bulk waste generator” means and includes buildings occupied by the Central government departments or undertakings, State government departments or undertakings, local bodies, public sector undertakings or private companies, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, colleges, universities, other educational institutions, hostels, hotels, commercial establishments, markets, places of worship, stadia and sports complexes having an average waste generation rate exceeding 100kg per day. The mention of quantity makes it cumbersome to identify bulk generators as most of these institutions don’t generate uniform amount of waste every day. For example, on a day of festival a temple must be generating around 500 kilograms of waste and on a regular day it’s waste generation doesn’t exceed 50 kilograms. In such cases monitoring of average waste generated will be next to impossible. It is suggested that the definition should exclude mention of quantity of waste generation i.e. average waste generation rate exceeding 100kg per day.
- Rules command manufacturers or brand owners of sanitary napkins and diapers to ‘explore the possibility of using all recyclable materials in their products or they shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products. All such manufacturers, brand owners or marketing companies shall educate the masses for wrapping and disposal of their products.’ As per the principle of Extended Producers’ Responsibility the duty of manufactures and brand owners should not be limited to providing packets for their products but also taking the charge of creating disposal facility for sanitary waste with the support of municipal authority.
- Waste-pickers and informal waste recyclers should be identified, registered, authorised and integrated into the solid waste management system by local governments. Thereby, should be recognized and identified as green collar workers.
- Occupational Identity cards should be issued to waste-pickers by the local/Municipal governments with the involvement of waste-pickers’ collective.
- Sorting (secondary segregation/ fine segregation) should be recognized as a crucial activity in SWM. Space for sorting and temporary storage of recyclables should be made available for waste-pickers in a decentralized manner.
- Waste-pickers should be afforded free and easy access to recyclables at source of generation as well as at secondary storage, material recovery, transfer, processing and disposal facilities.
- Introduce a comprehensive EPR policy under both Municipal Solid Waste and Plastic Waste Management rules to tackle difficult streams of waste such as sanitary waste, multi-layered packaging etc. and providing support to waste-pickers in collecting and diverting low value recyclables.
- Manufacturers of sanitary products like diapers, sanitary napkins etc. should be required to provide uniquely marked leak proof bags for the safe disposal of each individual product.
- Waste-pickers should be allowed to retain the waste collected by them.
- State and local governments should promote integration of waste-pickers into solid waste management systems by:
- Incentivizing formation of membership based organisations of waste-pickers including self- help groups, cooperatives, unions and companies.
- Preference for integration into door-to-door collection and processing facilities
- Authorize waste pickers to collect user fee from the beneficiaries of their services
- Handing over management of material recovery and other waste processing facilities to collectives of waste-pickers.
- Training and capacity building of waste-pickers in fine sorting, composting, bio-methanation and scrap shops management
- Provision of safety equipment, social security and health benefits to waste-pickers, including inclusion in housing schemes, food and security measures (for their children) as priority.
- National, State and Local policies/ strategies/ plans should be made in consultation with waste-pickers and their organisations.
- Waste-pickers should be involved in monitoring and advisory committees.
- Viability gap funding, tax concessions, credit at low rate of interest etc. should be made available to participants in the informal waste recycling sector.