Mission Garima was started in March 2014 as a joint initiative of Tata Trusts and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to eliminate unsafe, undignified practices for sanitation workers in Mumbai. The mission asserts that it is not possible to have clean cities without restoring the dignity of its cleaners.
It began with a photo book by Sudharak Olwe, ‘In Search of Dignity and Justice’, which captures through stark, black-and-white images, the abominable work and living conditions of those who clean our cities. The printing of the book was supported by Tata Trusts.
Current updates of the project
Mission Garima P/South Ward workshop happened on the 21st August 2018 at MCGM, Goregoan office to understand the challenges and opportunities in the ward with Deputy Municipal Commissioner & Assistant Municipal Commissioner and 78 staff members of the Ward.
The workshop resulted in the identification of 20 unrecognised chronic spots which are most difficult for the sanitation workers to handle.
Ward staff members’ feedback during the workshop highlighted the importance of “Behavioural Change Communication” to better the lives of the sanitation workers through better solid waste management.
Technology was identified as another key factor for the success of the project in the P/South ward.
The workshop also coined the term “Sanitation Soldier” to be used as a campaign to store the dignity of the sanitation workers.
The workshop set the tone for the project success in this ward by identifying champion staff members who would support the on-ground implementation of the project.
With a population of close to 2 crore, Mumbai produces around 8,000 metric tonnes of waste every day and MCGM has more than 50,000 workers engaged in managing this waste and keeping the city clean. A large number of these workers are involved in manual conservancy tasks and work in germ-infested conditions.
The gravity of the situation can be gauged by the following facts:
- About 70 percent of the work assigned to the conservancy workers (safai karmacharis) involves clearing tonnes of garbage, going down into manholes and servicing the sewage system, manually cleaning public toilets and open defecation areas, as well as working in dumping grounds and in cemeteries and crematoriums.
- The sanitation workers use various equipment for cleaning main sewer lines and manholes. However, a large section of cleaning points and alleys are inaccessible by machinery because of narrow entry points.
- Unplanned expansion of informal (slum) settlements and widespread apathy of citizens about waste management.
- Workers suffer from health issues like breathing problems, skin diseases, burning sensation in the eyes, etc.
- Data over the last five years suggests that every month nearly 20 people die cleaning Mumbai.
To eliminate undignified manual conservancy work, Tata Trusts, in collaboration with the MCGM, initiated the mission. Tata Strategic Management Group, Tata Consulting Engineers and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have also partnered with the Trusts in this endeavour with the objective “To improve working conditions of the safai karmacharis by reducing manual intervention of the workers with sewage and waste.”
About the intervention
The Trusts aim to achieve the objectives of Mission Garima through strategic interventions in the fields of communication, technology, infrastructure and healthcare.
- Community awareness programmes: These are designed to sensitise the people of Mumbai vis-à-vis the working conditions of sanitation workers and create general awareness about waste management and disposal practices.
- Behaviour change campaigns: The key to resolve such long-existing problems lies in the behaviour change of stakeholders. Therefore, the Trusts are supporting 360-degree outreach programmes to promote best practices in waste management and minimise the waste production at individual and entity levels, simultaneously restoring respect of the sanitation workers.
- Personal protection equipment: The Trusts’ efforts are aimed at providing technical inputs which will aid the MCGM to procure high-quality equipment that will be efficient, and ergonomic.
- Machines and allied equipment: The project teams are exploring the use of several machines to reduce the manual handling of waste by sanitation workers.
- Waste processing: The Trusts’ larger vision is to set up de-centralised waste processing units to maximise waste-to-energy production at an institutional level.
- Model chowki: The Trusts will be supporting the construction of a ‘model chowki’ as an ideal workplace which will have facilities such as a sitting area, tool storage area, proper ventilation, cupboards, toilets, purified drinking water, lockers, restrooms, etc.
- Suvidha Centres: The Trusts will be adopting Hindustan Unilever`s successful ‘Suvidha Centre’ model which offers toilets, showers, washing machines and safe drinking water to the local community under one roof, and plans to start a dozen of such centres in different wards of the city.
- Health camps: The Trusts, along with partner organisations, have conducted health check-up camps in select pilot wards. The camps covered both primary and secondary check-ups, unlimited consultation with the physician, and dental care with subsidised medicines through specially created Mission Garima Health Cards.
- Family and welfare: The community outreach programmes of the health clinics diagnose and cover families of the workers for major illnesses like tuberculosis and cancer under the MCGM medical schemes. Preliminary screening of both the diseases can be done at the partner health clinics.