By Jeffrey Morgan,2014-08-13 12:06
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    Environment Support Group ?

    S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens,

    Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560041. INDIA

    Telefax: 91-80-6341977/6531339

    Email: Website:



Name of the project:

    Empowerment Of Pourakarmikas through Capacity Building and Development of a Sustainable Community Level Solid Waste Management Strategy and Training Module

Planned objectives of the project:

    (a) Build the capacities of Solid Waste Workers in one Health Ward of the Bangalore

    Municipal Corporation towards fulfilling the role proposed for them by the Supreme Court

    Appointed Committee on India’s Urban Solid Waste Management for Class I cities.

    (b) Mobilise the local community in understanding the implications of the new Solid Waste

    Management Strategy, and supporting the new role of “Pourakarmikas” as community

    level Solid Waste Managers.

    (c) Develop appropriate educational aids in building the capacities of the “Pourakarmikas”

    and the local community in enabling a sustainable community-level solid waste

    management strategy.

Duration of the project:

    Start Date: 15 January 2001 End Date: 15 January 2002 Revised End Date: 31 March 2002

Achievements per Project Activity:

    The project successfully implemented all major activities planned per the objectives. The project region, Ward 49 B of Basavanagudi Range of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, was completely covered in the interventions proposed in the following respects:

    (a) Trained Solid Waste Workers (Pourakarmikas) in 49B health Ward of the Bangalore

    Mahanagara Palike towards fulfilling the progressive role proposed for them in the

    project brief and in compliance with the guidelines issued per the Municipal Solid Waste

    Management Rules of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This involved interacting

    with the workers on a weekly basis over six months. The monthly reports submitted

    document the details of this process.

    (b) Mobilise the local community in understanding the implications of the new Solid Waste

    Management Strategy and supporting the new role of Pourakarmikas as community level

    Solid Waste Managers. This involved several door-to-door campaigns conducted by

    Pourakarmikas and supported by ESG Team and volunteers from local schools and

    colleges. The students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences conducted a survey of this


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    (c) Developing appropriate educational aids in building the capacities of the

    “Pourakarmikas” and the local community in enabling a sustainable community-level

    solid waste management strategy. The educational aids included:

    i. A short film entitled “Nagara Nyrmalya” emphasizing the need for segregation of

    waste at source was produced by ESG in association with Grassroots Media Pvt.

    Ltd. The film involved leading actors and engaged an entertaining human drama

    emphasizing the need for progressive relations between Pourakarmikas and the

    community, if solid waste was to be managed effectively locally. In addition a 1-

    minute duration short film has been produced on the same theme featuring matinee

    idol Ramesh Aravind to serve as filler between TV shows. Kannada is the language

    of the film and an English subtitled version is also available.

     nd”Nagara Nyrmalya” was premiered on 2 April 2002 at the auditorium of Mahaveer

    Jain College, Basavanagui. The response was overwhelming, and the

    Pourakarmikas demonstrated their knowledge on the issue and ability to motivate

    the public. Due to the last minute absence of Mr. T. John, Minister for Bangalore

    Development, in launching the premiere, Smt. Pratibha Nandakumar, who acts as

    “Santhimmi” in the film, inaugurated the film along with noted film actress Smt. L. V.

    Sharada. Shri. Shivakumar, Senior Fellow of INEP, presented the various initiatives

    under the programme. Smt. Chandramma and Shri. Nagabhushan, Pourakarmikas,

    explained to the audience how the project benefited the workers and how the

    community could support them in this endeavour.

    ii. “What a Waste” is a flip chart that has been developed keeping in mind the needs

    of Pourakarmikas, who are mostly illiterate, to communicate pictorially to

    communities the need to segregate waste at source. This has been produced in

    Kannada and English, and has been well received so far.

    iii. A Wall Calendar providing a local area map with important utilities and calendar,

    but most importantly communicating pictorially the process of segregating waste at

    source, was produced and disseminated to every household by the Pourakarmikas

    and the ESG team. The basic purpose was to provide households with material that

    would be useful and attractive, so they would actually display it in homes, and thus

    serve as a reminder for segregating waste daily.

    iv. In addition, we have produced a series of leaflets to encourage local communities

    to engage with Pourakarmikas.

    v. Finally, a postcard has been specially developed for a mass mailer to popularize

    the initiative, especially the short film “Nagara Nyrmalya”. This is in follow up of over

    2,000 emails that have been sent all over the world to announce the results of this


    A separate section is added below listing in detail the various activities undertaken by ESG in popularizing the project in general and the short film in particular. Copies of all education material produced have been submitted to INEP.

Project Impact Indicators:

    This project has highlighted the fact that with sufficient support and training, Pourakarmikas are able to reach out and achieve much higher standards of efficiencies than are normally acknowledged them. Pourakarmikas in the project area actively collaborated in the initiative and were most willing to take up the progressive interventions proposed, even as this entailed higher commitments of their personal time. Their effectiveness in communicating with local communities, and encouraging their involvement, is perhaps the best indicator. ESG Report on SWM initiatives 2 of 5

    A rather striking development of this project is the evolution of at least five Pourakarmikas as dynamic trainers. They are capable of conducting refresher courses for fellow workers and also conducting fresh programmes for workers from other wards.

    The quality of solid waste management in Basavanagudi is far superior than before, and this may be construed as a strong physical indicator of the impact of this project.

Major Lessons Learnt during implementation:

    A major learning from this project is that strong facilitation of project initiatives by INEP would go a long way in securing the requisite support of local authorities. BMP is an extremely bureaucratic, suspicious and unsupportive organisation. Working with Pourakarmikas is considered a threat to the officials’ independence, and also an “encroachment” into their territories. Such parochial attitudes are best settled with assenting letters from senior officials of the Government who are apprised on progressive initiatives, as under this project.

    There is a major thrust to privatize the solid waste management workforce. This is based on the presumption that tenured workers are inefficient and prone to strike work. Such widely held notions found no support whatsoever in working with the Pourakarmikas. Their sincere efforts largely go unnoticed. On the contrary the privatized work force are daily wage earners and lack commitment. There is also wide corruption in making payments to the daily wagers, as a result of which daily wager workers attrition rates are very high. Unless the BMP reverses this process and considers progressive SWM interventions as critical to securing wider public health needs, and ensures workforce is created with some job security and occupational health facilities, it is likely that SWM interventions as presently in vogue could get increasingly challenging to implement. Of particular importance here would be the possibility that human induced habit changes, such as segregating waste at source, would certainly not become a possibility with an untrained and insecure workforce. Major policy shifts are demanded here.

    In particular mention must be made here that the Bangalore Agenda Task Force motivated “Swaccha Bangalore” has been pushing hard the process of privatization without considering the issues involved carefully. It would help very much if such initiatives could be more inclusive, especially of the workers, and measures adopted to reform well laid out public systems are not changed without due consideration of impacts.

    Finally, it must be acknowledged that community organising has become increasingly challenging as families are becoming increasingly insular, investing more time in private activities such as TV watching, and committing very little to community involvement and work. Basavanagudi is a neighbourhood that reflects this situation well, and could be a very strong representative of much of middle class Bangalore. Thus it would be vital for development and funding agencies to factor a higher work involvement in developing community based interventions.


    This initiative has amply demonstrated that working with solid waste management workers, Pourakarmikas, which was considered a NO NO, is a big YES YES. The emphasis of this statement is clearly intentional and oriented to shake the set belief system against involving Pourakarmikas in progressive initiatives as in this project. Government efforts would easily follow this initiative, and by mere replicating the steps engaged in this project, achieve much more than has been possible in this sector in recent years. Again this is a very low investment effort, and yet develops a strong civic community in a sustainable manner.

ESG Report on SWM initiatives 3 of 5

    Replication of this initiative is advised not just across Bangalore, but also all over the state. The effort can be modified to suit local cultural and urban situations. Effectively it works to build civic society at the most fundamental level, the household, and thus produces a situation of easy involvement in citywide initiatives.

     ndAs a part of the 2 Phase of INEP, there is possibility of replication of this initiative in at least three other districts of Karnataka.

    BMP and Dept of Municipal Administration would be the key agency that has benefited from this process. However, the initiative would be of much interest to the Depts. of Urban Development, Health, and Town Planning.

A Brief About "Nagara Nyrmalya"

    Solid waste or garbage strewn all over is a common sight in any Indian city. Little do we care about how it is disposed, where it is disposed, who disposes it and of our role, as citizens, in this entire process.

    "Nagara-Nyrmalya" addresses the complex issues involved in solid waste management and the problems faced by “Pourakarmikas” (solid waste workers, also known as “Safai Karmacharis”) in their efforts at maintaining healthy neighbourhoods in the city.

    This entertaining human drama presents the efforts of “Santhimmi”, a Pourakarmika, as she motivates people in her neighbourhood to adopt safe solid waste management techniques. The film highlights how such small efforts could help vastly improve our approach to solid waste management in cities, big and small.

    Language: Kannada (with English Subtitles)/11 mins/PAL

    Script, Photography & Direction: G. S. Bhaskar

    Cast: Prathibha Nandakumar as “Santhimmi”, Vaishali Kasaravalli, Ramesh Aravind,

    Aa. Naa. Ramesh, Niharika, Arjun

    Produced by: Environment Support Group

    In Association with: Grassroots Media Pvt. Ltd.

Reportage in Media:

    “Nagara Nyrmalya” has been prominently featured in major dailies. Clippings of the stories are annexed. The World Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation featured the work ndsupporting the film on 2 April 2002, as part of its main news coverage. An audio tape of this interview is enclosed. Related news coverage on the project is also enclosed.

    The short film has already been telecast for over two weeks during June, twice daily, on SITI Cable and ICE TV Network. Efforts are underway to get Doordarshan to telecast the film.

Beneficial results of work done:

    This short film could become a major means of communicating the need for individual and collective responsibility in tackling the complex problem of solid waste management across all urban areas. Simple community instruction manuals and calendars that have been produced complete the package of community education along with the film.

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    ndThis film was premiered on 2 April 2002, and was critically acclaimed by the audience. Pourakarmikas of Ward 49 B involved in an interesting discussion with the audience on the features of the process as envisaged in the film, thus demolishing the myth about them as an ineffective, unintelligent and unresponsive workforce. Contrarily, they demonstrated how they would use the film and the associated community education material in encouraging communities to engage in responsible waste management at source.

    This sort of an approach has not been attempted anywhere before in the country. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka has directed the Commissioner of the Bangalore

    Mahanagara Palike to adopt this film in its work, and an email communicating this is annexed.

     thDuring a review of the project at the 8 SAM meeting of Indo-Norwegian Environment

    Programme, the Development Commissioner of Karnataka agreed to request the Mayor of Bangalore to similarly accord this initiative prime focus in the city’s solid waste management efforts.

    ESG has contacted every Corporator of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, and there is keen interest in utilizing this work in all wards. The Secretariat of the Council is likely to organize a special viewing of “Nagara Nyrmalya” for all Corporators.

    In Uttara Kannada region, CES Consultants have already engaged communities in over 10 towns in discussions on solid waste management utilizing the film. International Labour Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme have also endorsed this film as being a useful medium in their work.

    Several municipalities, NGOs and citizens from across the country have evinced interest in the film, have obtained copies of the same, and reports of its widespread utility are being received.

    Wipro Software conducted special programmes on World Environment Day 2002, and “Nagara Nyrmalya” was viewed by all workers as a part of this process. Similarly Doddaballapur Municipal Council and Raichur Municipal Council have held special viewings for their coucillors and the public. Several schools and colleges have requested special viewings of the film clubbed with workshops on SWM.

    During May 2003, UNICEF and USAID sponsored a study tour of officials from the urban development departments of local, regional and central agencies of Bangladesh Government to appreciate the developments in SWM in India. The team’s visit to Bangalore commenced with an appreciation of ESG’s initiatives, and the approaches demonstrated here are likely to be adopted in Bangladesh.

    Encouraged by the positive feedback to this project, the Indo-Norwegian Environment Programme is likely to extend the coverage of the project to Chickamagalur and Raichur cities in Karnataka. Whilst such support from the Government is indeed encouraging, the film’s real purpose would be to convince communities all over that the problem of solid waste management is not one of “dump and forget” by using Pourakarmikas as “mere extensions of brooms”, but one where the individual and the community creatively engage with Pourakarmikas in finding a sustainable solution to the problem.

“Nagara Nyrmalya” has the potential of supporting this movement to improve our local


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