The livelihood of 130 waste pickers from SwaCh, who have been offering their services to the University of Pune (UoP), has come under threat. The UoP has decided to give the contract to some other party.
In a press release, the SwaCh members have condemned the move and said the varsity officials are promoting profit-driven companies.
“We have been offering our services to the university for the last 16 years and we do work like waste picking, sweeping and housekeeping. The University never complained against our volunteers,” said Aparna Susrala of SwaCh.
She said that recently, the university floated tenders for waste management and they have mentioned criteria which SwaCh cannot meet.
“The university made it mandatory for the company to have an annual turnover of Rs5 crore and they will have to deposit Rs5 lakh. We could not meet those criteria,” said Susrala.
“Many of our members who support their families with this income will be unemployed,” she added.
UoP vice-chancellor Vasudeo Gade supported the management’s decision and claimed that SwaCh volunteers lacked certain expertise and skills, which are required in waste management and housekeeping. Meanwhile, a varsity official said that there were no complaints against SwaCh volunteers.