According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai produces 7,500 metric tonnes of waste every day. A large number of the 50,000 MCGM workers involved in keeping the city clean and managing this waste are exposed to the risk of contracting diseases and suffering from various ailments. They work in hazardous conditions when they enter germ-infested manholes and come in contact with sewage, and when they work in dumping grounds or when they clean cemeteries, crematoriums, open defecation areas and public toilets. This often leaves them with breathing problems, skin diseases and burning in the eyes.
In order to eliminate such undignified conservancy work and reduce manual intervention of the workers with sewage and waste, the Tata Trusts initiated Mission Garima, in partnership with Tata Group companies and municipality bodies.
Under this initiative, the Trusts have undertaken the following:
- Communication: The mission engages in creating awareness about waste management and disposal practices through behaviour change campaigns. The campaign has been receiving accolades across Indian and International forums, more recently at the reputable Clio Awards for copywriting and creative effectiveness.
- Technology: With the help of the available technology, the Trusts are providing personal protection equipment and machines to reduce the manual handling of waste by the workers, and setting-up decentralised waste processing units for maximising energy generation from waste at an institutional level.
- Infrastructure: The Trusts are designing a model chowki for workers, which will be equipped with tools, cupboards, sitting areas and facilities like restrooms, lockers, drinking water, etc. The Trusts will also be replicating Hindustan Unilever`s successful ‘Suvidha Centre’ model, which houses toilets, showers, washing machines and safe drinking water units for workers.
- Health care: The Trusts, in collaboration with partners, are also conducting health check-up camps and offering medicines at subsidised prices. Under the MCGM medical schemes, workers and their family members are screened for tuberculosis and cancer.
The mission has impacted around 400,000 sanitation workers in Mumbai, with a large number of them being made aware of the mission and contacted for health services.
The Mission Garima awareness campaign seeks to give a voice to conservancy workers and their families and bring their cause to the fore. However, this has been interpreted by some, as glorifying manual scavenging and legal compulsions thereof, have led to the removal of the film from the Trusts’ digital assets.