Monthly Archives: September 2013

FIUPW Demanding Commitment for Urban Poor from Political Parties

Identity, Dignity and Social Security for Urban Poor

Rapidly changing scenario of urban area is the matter of concern and attention. There are various issues associated to the urbanization and in India  urban population is expected to hit 600 million by 2030 with urbanization of 40% (in fact in practical terms the urban population would be about 60% if we take into account floating urban population)[1]. As per reports of Planning Commission of India, cities contribute about 63% of country’s GDP. According to 2011 Census, one fifth of the urban populations live in non pukka houses. One third of the urban household (120 million people) in the big cities of India live in single room houses, with 3% having no room to them. Also, 19% of them have no latrine facilities inside their houses[2]. Almost one-third of population of an average city lives in slums and other poor pockets.  It is an irony that voting percentage in slum areas is highest in most of cities but the slum issues remain politically and administrative neglected.

No doubt there are many schemes and services for urban poor, but due to lack of implementation largely because of stiff criteria for selecting beneficiaries these schemes don’t serve their purpose. Urban poor struggle with many issues such as: lack of identity in the eyes of governments, distorted identities in society, lack of employment opportunities, informality of work, inadequate and insecure housing, unhealthy and inhuman environment, lack of social security, limited access to health services, and limited education opportunities.

India is the largest democracy in the world. Like any democracy, political parties in India have greater say in bringing enabling policies and programmes for urban poor. Since elections are approaching in Delhi, FIUPW would like put forth following issues for the consideration of political parties with request to include them in their respective election manifestos.

Forum of Informal Urban Poor Workers (FIUPW) is a coalition of various associations, federations and civil societies at national level. FIUPW is consistently working on the neglected areas of unorganized sectors and informal settlements.  It is one of its own kinds. It’s comprised of 8 NGOs and 18 associations and federations. Delhi Jhuggi Jhopri Ekta Manch, Hawkers Joint Action Committee, National Campaign Commttee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, Federation of Rickshaw Pullers of India, All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh and Janpahal are few of them. FIUPW aims at providing basic rights to all neglected sections of Indian society.

Demands for Manifesto

Informal urban workers are valuable citizens of city contributing to city’s growth and its well-being. They have equal rights to access all the resources of cities which other citizen can access.

A.  Basic Minimum Needs

  • Government should proactively and compulsorily provide comprehensive identity card to all informal workers and their families (All inclusive card in support of citizenship of city and rights over services)
  • There should be quantifiable and judiciously justifiable  norms of  employment guarantee, non-employment allowance, pension, monsoon/drought allowance, child care and accidental relief to all informal workers
  • All informal workers and slum dwellers should be provided basic housing facilities with securities of tenure under existing or future schemes of government
  • Under Right to Education there should be special provisions for children of informal urban workers

B.  Proactive Legislative Actions

 All the above should be legislative schedule and kept for periodically review

C.  Institutional Reforms

  • There should be separate budget allocated in the annual plan and budget of the city for informal workers
  • Independent boards and committees comprising representatives of informal sectors and slum dwellers should be constituted for recommending, monitoring and implementing social security measures e.g. there should be a formation of Town Vending Committee (TVC) and Hawkers board and  at every municipal level

Basic Minimum Needs

Provision of Identity Card: Indian citizen’s living in a place and for working in same or other place should get government recognized certificate in support of her/his identity and the address. Informal workers often face constant harassment from local police and municipal authorities due to this identity (card) problem. Poor are not eligible for receiving services if they don’t have relevant identity proof. So, there must be provision of providing identity cards to the informal settlers.  For example domestic workers should be given government ID proof that is recognized all over the country so that they get their benefits when they retire or change the job. Same is applicable to waste collectors, hawkers, construction workers, vendors and other such informal workers. In case of Cycle Rickshaws, they should get consideration as the only eco-friendly mode of public transportation. Similarly, children of urban poor workers have a right to identity in order to avail various services provided by the government of Delhi. Therefore, children of urban poor workers may be provided birth registration certificates.

Livelihood and Social Security: Informal workers and/or slum dwellers are citizens of India and so, have constitutional rights for social and life securities. Thus government must provide them social security in terms of employment opportunities, decent working condition, safety, and security at work places and also at habitation levels. There should be provision for employment guarantee, non-employment allowance, pension, monsoon/drought allowance, child care, and accidental relief to all vulnerable sections.  The traditional livelihood opportunities of these vulnerable sections should be protected against unequal competitions such as  waste collectors should be given exclusive rights for door to door collection at the housing cluster and neighborhood levels (instead of allowing entries of more resourceful private players). Same in the case of hawkers who feel threatened by rapid emergence of corporate chain retailers in Delhi. All hawkers/vendors should be served and registered and be protected from unequal competition by having adequate regulations including of location and reserved goods. Equal pay for equal work for both men and women in order to reduce economic inequality not only among individuals but among different groups. Similarly, the government should ensure proper working conditions for workers, with full enjoyment of leisure, social and cultural activities.

Housing Facilities: As per United Nation’s –The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. So Housing is the most basic need of every individual and informal workers/slum dwellers are also entailed to avail better housing facilities. All informal workers (for example hawkers) and slum dwellers should be provided basic housing facilities with securities of tenure under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). An independent committee should be constituted to monitor the functioning of all homeless shelters. Systematic and accountable efforts must be taken to improve the functioning of temporary shelters to make them habitable, including providing electricity, fans, drinking water, toilets and basic healthcare.

Education: As we all know India joined a group of few countries in the world, with a historic law making education a fundamental right of every child coming into force. Making elementary education an entitlement for children in the 6–14 age group, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act will directly benefit children who do not go to school at present. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every child of the age of six to fourteen years shall complete his/her elementary education in a neighborhood school. Special provisions for children of urban poor workers for not admitted to, or who have not completed, elementary education should be made in terms of special training, transfer to other schools in case of displacement from one work place to another, no denial of admission, relaxation in proof of age for admission etc. Privatization of government schools need to check and proper mechanism should be in place to prohibit such process of privatization.

Some Possible Ways to Address the Needs

1.  Proactive Legislative Actions: There should be re-implementation of National Urban Transport Bill-2006. There is a need to constitute central monitoring task force to implement The Street Vendors policy (2009) as directed by the Honorable Supreme Court of India on 9th Sept. A central legislation that makes it mandatory for state and local governments to guarantee livelihood and social security, space and welfare services to waste collectors, hawkers, rickshaw pullers and other informal sectors should be immediately enacted. Government should constitute unorganised worker’s policies and there should be provision of unorganised labour specific law. Besides that Unorganised Workers Social Security Act- 2008 needs a push. Retail giants should be required to recognize unions and bargain collectively and separate National Wage board should be established for workers in the retail trade services.

2. Institutional Reform:  There should be separate budget allotment for urban poor; it should be 70% of annual budget. Independent boards comprising representatives of informal sectors and slum dwellers should be constituted to ensure timely enactment and implementation of appropriate policies’ and programmes for urban poor. For example; there should be a formation of Town Vending Committee (TVC) at every municipal corporation level, which should include 40% elected representatives of street vendors out of which 30% should be women. Elected representatives of street vendors belonging to Widow, Handicap, SC, ST, OBC and Minority community should be given priority to represent street vendors in town and other vending committees.  A special Hawkers Board should be constituted to provide social security schemes to hawkers. Natural, traditional, weekly, neighborhood markets should be promoted and protected through adequate policy initiatives. The areas of licensing, urban planning competition, procurement, local control and respect for the environment are all critical concerns and should be taken into consideration while allowing large chain retailers in Delhi and in  case of domestic workers a Tripartite Board should be the instrument for implementation of the Act. The composition of the Board and its lower formations must be tripartite in nature and give the pride of place to workers through their elected representatives with proportionate representation for women workers. The Board should undertake:

  •  Registration of workers and their social security contributions
  •  Regulation of conditions of work
  • Social protection
  • Registration of employers and collection of their contribution for social   security

[1] UN-Habitat and WHO, 2010.Hidden Cities: Unmasking and Overcoming Health Inequities in Urban Settings.

[2] Ghosh, J and Chandrasekhar, C.P. 2013. The Changing Face of Urban Poverty in The Hindu, Business Line, Online Edition, Available online at: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/c-p-chandrasekhar/the-changing-face-of-urban-poverty/article4379020.ece

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Eyes upon the street – Safety of the ‘urban poor –woman’?

“A city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, our of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities:

First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.

And third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. Almost nobody does such a thing. Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.”
― Jane JacobsThe Death and Life of Great American Cities

That was Jacob, suggesting long back on how to make our cities liveable . In an interesting ‘art’ project – French outdoor installation artist JR executed – ‘Women are Heroes’ project all over the world and got watchful eyes right back on the streets!

Here are some images:

28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes

Favela de Jour, Rio de Janeiro, Brésil, 2008

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 28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes

Action in Kibera Slum, Rooftops View, Kenya, 2009

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28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes

Eyes on Bricks, New Delhi, India, 2009

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28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes

Eye in Jaipur, Holi Festival, India, 2009

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But then, does it even matter – Even if all are watching?!

Indian cities with many strangers and far too many eyes still don’t grant safety for women.

Artist page: http://www.jr-art.net

Thought for the day!

“People who say that a beautiful building does not improve the quality of education do not understand a critical issue. In Medellin we have to build the most beautiful buildings in places where the State’s presence has been minimal. The first step towards quality in education is the dignity of space. When the poorest child from Medellin arrives at the best classroom in the city, we send a powerful message. If we give fine libraries to the poorest neighbourhoods, these communities will feel proud of themselves”(Sergio Fajardo, Newsweek, November 2007).

National Green Assembly on “ Waste Legislation and Waste Pickers” by AIKMM

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has recently come out with the Draft Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2013 (MSW Rules). These rules would supersede the earlier MSW Rules, 2000 and have huge implications for the way waste is managed in cities across India. It is important to draw the attention that these rules completely lack to focus on the lives and livelihoods of millions of workers, both formal and informal, who have been involved in waste management. As per the claim it is also have lack of potential to address the problem of pollution control.

Millions of workers involve in work for waste collecting, sorting, recycling and selling material that someone else has thrown away by declaring it as garbage. Vital actors in the informal economy, these workers work hard for reducing carbon emission and save energy in handling the waste contribute to save the revenue and provide widespread discernible and indiscernible benefit to our society, municipalities and the environment. However, they face irony harsh working conditions, often low social status, deplorable living  condition and without  support from the government. Despite the fact that waste collectors recycle about 20 percent of the city’s waste saving the municipalities millions of rupees every year, they are unrecognized in legislation, criminalized by the administration and ignored by society. Instead of their role these workers which are named Waste pickers working for environment without any direct payment are not part of the public solid waste management systems and are socially invisible and seldom reported in official statistics.

The 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) is most accepted universal recommendation to save the environment,  only followed by these workers. Waste picking is also responsive to the market driven conditions for recyclables and most often it is a family enterprise. It may appear to be a chaotic work but is absolutely organized. In some cities, most waste pickers are migrants and rejected from the global economic processes. This puts them in a more vulnerable condition with no legal entitlements despite the fact that they are “The real, Invisible Environmentalist”. In its 2009-10, Annual Report the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) estimated that approximately 55 million tons of MSW are generated in urban areas of India annually. It is estimated that the amount of waste generated in India will increase at a rate of approximately 1 – 1.33% annually , indicates that this problem will sustain if adequate measures will not taken.

India is one of the fastest growing economies of 6 to 9% GDP growth per year but despite these achievements and claims that economic development is happening, the disparity between rich and poor is widening, and this can be seen across the country– from large urban areas to small rural ones. According to ILO, despite of playing such an important role for the society and environment waste Pickers also fall under the 77% of the population who earn less than a dollar every day cause they are not authorized to collect the waste material from the source i.e.; home, factory, offices etc. Due to lack of recognitions and authorization, the waste pickers always suffered from atrocities by the Resident Welfare Associations, Policemen, Colony people, Municipal Authority etc. With little scope of earning, they are entangled in the web of bribery.
In spite of their vital role than any other government and nongovernmental agency involve protecting the environment , the government has never noticed them as an important informal sector but always taken their Name (Waste Picker) in the legislation.

In the new Draft The Gazette of India REGD.NO.D.L-33004/99 http://envfor.nic.in/so1978ehttp://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/so-1978-e.pdf  Page no. 26- Point no-9 (k) Management of Municipal Solid waste, they talked very little about the authorized waster Picker but very reluctant to recognize them, yet there is no such mechanism for authorizing it and thus  not a single waste Picker has been authorized by the government agencies. Even this Gazette has not authorized them. The roles, responsibility, and rights of the waste Picker has also not been mentioned in the draft Gazette. Yet the waste pickers have historically   demanding for the rights of collection & segregation of the waste material at the source level , which is only way to segregate the waste and can get potential to handle according to  the appropriate category .

This gazette also brought a forged and dangerous idea of waste to energy, in spite of knowing that in India it is not possible to generate Energy from the Waste, due to the properties of waste comparatively to the countries practicing this process. In 2012, an operational energy plant was set up in Delhi to produce electricity but more than one and half year this plant not able to produce one single unit of Electricity except to release toxic pollutants. On the other aspects, it is proved that in an area where waste to energy plant would run, as warned by concerned scientists there is a higher risk of disease likes Cancer and Impotence in Women.

Given the situation, it is of utmost importance that there should be dialogue between stakeholders to obtain different opinions on the Rules. It has been 13 years since the earlier Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, were framed, and approved by the MoEF. Various changes have taken place since then in the structure and format of waste management, its governance, and economic and financial aspects. However, until date, there has been no systematic review of these changes and the measures that have been taken to manage urban solid waste. It is time to carry out such a review. In order to make the new Rules valuable for society must reflect this new learning instead of simply being a slightly amended version of the existing rules. Even declared unsuccessful the policy of privatization by their promulgators the draft concludes, the private sector has the best proficient to handle the concerned responsibility. This is escape from the responsibilities as a results make the problem complicated to handle in future.

It is for this reason that All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh (AIKMM) has decided to host a dialogue of various stakeholders to thresh out the issues so that the new Rules may lay the foundation for much more sustainable, inclusive, and holistic waste management rather than the present inefficient draft.

Schedule of the Programme:

Date: 24 october

Time: 10 AM

Place: Constitution Club,Marg, New Delhi.

Pension Scheme for Unorganized Sector

On 9th September, 2013 pension scheme for un-organised and informal sector workers was cleared by Delhi government.

A meeting of Delhi Cabinet, presided by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, cleared the proposal to launch Dilli Swavalamban Yojana.

The pension scheme would be open to all workers in the age group of 18-60 years. Each of the workers will have to contribute Rs 1,000 per annum and an equal amount would be given by the city government.

At the age of 60 years, a worker can withdraw 60 per cent of the total amount from his account and balance 40 per cent would remain in his account for which the beneficiary will be given pension.
Any worker will have the option of exiting the scheme before attaining the age of 60 years. In case of the death of the beneficiary, the entire corpus amount will be given to his nominee.
To avail the benefit of the scheme, a worker will have to be a resident of Delhi for at least three years at the time of enrollment in Dilli Swavalamban Yojana.
Ms. Dikshit said all those working in unorganised and informal sectors such as hawkers, artisans, construction workers, leather workers, domestic workers, cobblers, rickshaw pullers, anganwadi workers, anganwadi helper, auto drivers and taxi drivers will be able to benefit from the scheme.

Source: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-09-09/news/41903508_1_pension-scheme-delhi-cabinet-ownership-rights

‘Wells’ in a new package!-“Water ATMs”

Rural villagers in India who face problems accessing clean water can now get it with the drop of a coin — water ATMs are self-service kiosks that supply water for a single India rupee. The water comes from local bore-wells but is purified in filters inside the kiosks.

Read more: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/water-atms-to-provide/808814.html

RAY of hope for slum dwellers

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

BHUBANESWAR: Faced with opposition from slum dwellers to implement Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) housing project, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has selected volunteers among the slum dwellers to spread awareness among them about the project. This is being done to expedite the project, said an official.

Sources said 797 out of 884 selected volunteers have been trained to spread awareness among the slum dwellers. “The slum dwellers have misconception about the project. They think that they will be evicted from the place where they are dwelling now. So we engaged an NGO to instil confidence among the slum dwellers by roping in volunteers,” said RAY project officer Srimanta Mishra.

The city has 436 slums and volunteers’ groups have been formed in 412. During the survey, about 70, 000 households were identified to be provided houses under RAY. “As of now we have completed survey works in about 408 slums,” said a BMC official. In May, the civic body roped in a Hyderabad-based company for demarcation of slum areas according to geographic information system survey. The company put up pillars at the slums for demarcation. The civic body will get the satellite imagery of slum areas and keep it as proof for conducting socio-economic survey, he added. “We will integrate the satellite imagery with the socio-economic survey, which include collating the data of individual slum dwellers. The data will help us offer RAY houses to the slum dwellers,” said Mishra.