“Our sanitation workers, our brothers and sisters, who broom the roads every day while tolerating the stench of the garbage are the heroes of this campaign in the true sense.”
- Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
Under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0, capacity building of all stakeholders is a priority area of focus, which saw the recent launch of the ‘National Capacity Building Framework for Garbage Free Cities’. An equally critical focus area of the Government of India is the safety and welfare of SafaiMitras – sanitation workers who are engaged in keeping our cities and neighborhoods clean. In response, MoHUA had run a year-long competition – the Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge, among 246 Municipal Corporations and capitals, in an effort to encourage cities to mechanise their sewer and septic cleaning tank operations, to minimize the need for human entry for such cleaning activities, and to ensure safety of workers through use of PPE and safety kits, in case manual entry is inevitable. The Challenge also helped identify 100 “Lighthouse cities” from across States/ UTs who have done good work in mechanizing their cleaning operations and ensuring safety and welfare of their SafaiMitras.
On 25th March 2022, as part of its targeted capacity building initiatives, the SBM-Urban Mission directorate of MOHUA organized the first-of-its-kind “SwachhTalks” as part of its peer-learning webinar series for States/ UTs and ULBs, with the theme “SafaiMitra Suraksha in 100 lighthouse cities”. The objective of the webinar was to accelerate the progress of these 100 cities towards complete ‘manhole to machinehole’ transformation to ensure safety and security of SafaiMitras. The top 6 cities in the Challenge: Indore and Navi Mumbai in population category of >10 lakhs, Nellore and Jamshedpur in population category of 3-10 lakhs, and Dewas and Karimnagar in population category of <3 lakhs, presented their good practices in SafaiMitra Suraksha. Urban Management Centre, a MoHUA sector partner also made a comprehensive presentation on good practices in SafaiMitra Suraksha adopted by the SSC participant cities.
The webinar also saw presentations made by YK Pathak, additional CEO GeM, who put light on their Self Sustaining and User-Friendly procurement platform. The platform ensures adequate & economical availability of equipment for desludging septic tanks & sewers as key to the mechanization of this sector. Apart from this, six champion cities showcased their milestones achievements over time, prioritizing the safety and social security of SafaiMitras.
During the SwachhTalks Webinar, Mr. Abhijit Sudhakar Bangar, Commissioner, Navi Mumbai, showcased the city’s advanced sanitation infrastructure developed to tackle a high-competitive future by incorporating a comprehensive contract for toilet maintenance, and a well-planned underground sewage network focusing on the relevance of safeguarding SafaiMitra.
Focusing on Sustainable solutions Ms. Prathiba Pal, Municipal Commissioner, Indore, presented the innovative techniques of the city in ensuring safety to our saviors by innovations of machines built by IMC. Financial & social schemes are underway to focus on the education of SafaiMitra’s families.
Taking ahead the webinar, Mr. K. Dinesh Kumar, Commissioner, Nellore, put forward the impactful practices undertaken in the city to assure the lives of the frontline force. Nellore enforced a ban on manual scavenging & included private players in the campaign to strengthen the mission.
Representing Jamshedpur, Mr. Krishna Kumar shared the remarkable efforts undertaken, from training programs to regular health checkups, several initiatives emerged as a route map for other cities.
Representatives from Dewas, Mr. Vishal Singh, Municipal Commissioner, shared the benchmarks set by the city by formulating an advanced sanitation structure. Functional STPs, desludging vehicles, emergency response management, IEC protocol, were all the highlights showcased during the webinar.
Karimnagar also put light on the efforts made towards the safety of SafaiMitras. Mr. Seva Eslavath, Municipal Commissioner, Karimnagar, showed the practices of sanitation mechanization in the city. During the webinar, the city introduced welfare schemes launched to battle the social vulnerabilities and occupational challenges of Sanitation workers.
The virtual event was attended by representatives of the 100 lighthouse cities, Senior officials from State and UTs, and sector partners. The webinar marks the beginning of a paradigm shift in the Mission’s capacity building initiatives, with more such thematic webinars planned on a monthly basis, to complement the already ongoing efforts in capacitating the country’s workforce to make India “Garbage Free”.
Applications for the Swachhata Start-Up Challenge are open on www.swachhatastartupchallenge.com
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