A Mirage – Assessment of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and SWM Rules 2016 ; Wastepickers Perspective Across India

“Wastepickers integration”, has become a catchword with policymakers, post the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, and the introduction of the Swachh Survekshan – a survey to rank cities on various sanitation and cleanliness parameters under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in January 2016. In the race to be number one, are cities being true to the spirit of inclusion and integration, or is it just playing safe and attempting a bureaucratic tick box exercise? Is understanding and interpretation of the Rules and the Rankings uniform across different stakeholders? What is the level of comprehension? In 2018, AIW and IGSSS commissioned SWMRT to undertake a study to assess the perception of SBA with the respect to solid waste management among waste pickers and suggest appropriate interventions. As part of the study, twenty cities were surveyed, and a total of 1869 waste pickers were interviewed by the member organisations of AIW. In addition, focus group discussions, meetings with partner organisations and government officials, along with site visits in key cities were conducted. This report seeks to look past the narratives of the rankings, looks closer at the letter and spirit of the rules, dwells on the efforts made so far, explores the possible reasons for actions not happening and presents both an overview and a detailed discussion on the realities of the implementation and the present day status of the waste pickers in India.

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