Who We Are
Lokadhikar was founded in 2002 as a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization with its registration with the Societies Act, 1860. From its establishment, Lokadhikar has been committed to the cause of the informal sector laborers for their development, to ensure minimum wage, basic health, habitation and exploitation and harassment free environment. The primary focus of work with the waste pickers is to link all of them with the national flagship programme. The thoughtful attempt envisages that the waste pickers could also join the country-wide cleanliness campaign and contribute positively in achieving the goals. Along with this the organization has been running Education Centres in the labour colonies for their children and organising Health camps regularly, so as to educate the young generation and prevent them from entering into the same vocation and to keep them fit. To continue the effort Lokadhikar has been undertaking advocacy with the government with the support and co-operations of community and civil societies to bail out the waste-picker community who are selflessly engaged to keep the city clean, putting their life at risk.
What We Do
-Organising Waste Pickers
The prime objective of Lokadhikar organization is to organize the waste pickers so that they are made aware about their rights and entitlements. The general public usually perceives that the people engaged in waste management are not part of the society as they are dirty and they are spreading the waste. This labour class has been not only been looked down upon but are discriminated at every level. The effort of Lokadhikar is to ensure due recognition and respect for the contribution of the waste pickers in keeping the cities clean. We in different Zones of Delhi, particularly in the waste pickers’ colonies, organize monthly meeting with the labours. Besides local issues like water, electricity, education, health, etc., their employment related problems are also discussed in the meeting.
-Livelihood of Waste Pickers
The livelihood question of people segregating the wastes is more critical in comparison to other labour class. The sole income of the waste pickers is from the waste materials collected, segregated and sold to the scrap dealers. The Lokadhikar is making every effort to make sure that the waste pickers get employment and in this process the organization in collaboration with private companies has provided work in various garbage collection centres. Lokadhikar has been collaborating with various Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to ensure minimum wage to the waste pickers collecting garbage from the societies. It has been a practice now that many RWAs are supporting minimum wages to the people picking the garbage from the societies.
In India about 94 percent workforce is engaged in informal or unorganized sector. The waste pickers too constitute part of the unorganized labour. Lokadhikar has been trying its level best to bring the waste pickers under the purview of the unorganized sector so that they all can avail the benefits of social security. These workers can avail the benefits of central and state schemes for unorganized workers. Our effort is to facilitate the waste pickers with basic documents like voter’s identity card, ration card, and also advocating for issuance of identity card by the municipal authorities so that their work is recognized and they don’t face any harassment by any agency or authority.
The education and resources are two essential elements to bring positive change in any society and these are quintessential to build civil society. Irony is that it is not quite possible for all sections of the society to avail education. The children of the waste pickers fall in the deprived category. These children also take part in garbage collection, segregation and cleaning along with their parents, as a result they don’t attend the schools. Lokadhikar has been running informal education centres in the waste pickers’ colonies where the small children are given formal education and the adults are imparted skill training on videography, painting and making best out of wastes.
The waster pickers often confront with number of risks and health problems in their occupation, such as skin diseases, itching, asthma, cancer, etc. among others. Moreover the waste pickers suffer cold cough and fever throughout the year. Lokadhikar organizes Health Camps in collaboration with the Government Health Centres in every three month in various colonies habituated by the waste pickers in Rohini, Civil Lines and Keshavpura Zones. Further Health Awareness Camps are organized in the localities from time to time. Besides making awareness on occupational hazards, the waste pickers are also given understanding on the perceived hazards and accidents during segregation and management of wastes.
A fundamental principle of democracy is that people should have control over the crucial decisions affecting their lives and Lokadhikar strongly believes in it. In the past, such political, economic and social decisions were entrusted to elected representatives. Now it is crucial that people need to themselves participate in the workings of government, making elected officials and bureaucrats more accountable, and exercising power in a decentralized way to create direct democracy. The decentralization of power and people’s participation was guaranteed through the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1992 for rural and urban local bodies respectively. The 74th Amendment strengthened the urban local bodies to achieve people’s participation. Lokadhikar’s ceaseless advocacy with the local urban bodies is to give recognition to the work of waste pickers in keeping the city clean and respect their effort and not harass them at any point.
- Workshop with the Schools and Colleges
Lokadhikar is has been organizing workshops in Delhi Schools and Colleges to involve the students in the endeavor to save the environment. These workshops share information with students on what is waste, types of wastes and what role everyone can play to make the environment people’s friendly. The intention of Lokadhikar is to bring awareness in general public to play their role in addressing the issue of piling up of waste materials in the dumping grounds, which have been pausing threat to the environment. Through these workshops the students are informed about the dry and wet wastes, need for segregating these two and the method of converting the wet waste into compost for reuse in garden. Lokadhikar is also facilitating to make compost pits in schools and colleges. The other aim is to make the people sensitive about the waste pickers as they are also part of our society and helping to keep the city clean at the cost of making their body dirty and putting at risks. Primarily, Lokadhikar has constantly been trying to protect the rights and entitlements of the waste pickers who are the protectors of the environment.