Vijayawada: This World Environment Day, HCCB and UNDP are celebrating the “will do” spirit of the ‘Safai Sathis’ – sanitation workers who have been working continuously to keep the country clean by collecting and helping recycle plastic waste – even during the pandemic. Safai Sathis, are the workforce behind Project Prithvi – the plastic waste management program – that HCCB and UNDP have been jointly running over the last 3 years with partner agencies and local government bodies. Project Prithvi aims to collect and recycle more than 70,000 tonnes of plastic waste this year.
HCCB (Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages) – one of India’s top FMCG companies, and UNDP have worked together during the pandemic period to reach out to 1,00,000 people including 17,000 ‘Safai Sathi’s’ with essential items such as safety kits, ration supplies, hygiene kits etc. A total of 2,50,000 safety kits and 70,00,000 kilos of ration – including rice, wheat flour, lentil, spices, tea, salt, milk powder, cooking oil and grains – and 1,50,000 soap packets have been distributed since the impact of Covid19. The two organizations have also collaborated with Municipal Commissioners and City Implementing Partners to conduct awareness sessions on hygiene and safety – handling masks, gloves, and about social distancing – across 30 cities. The safai sathis were also provided with travel passes to transport goods and to collect waste in designated areas. These efforts have been greatly appreciated by the Municipal Commissioners of various cities such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Hyderabad.
Maya Kumari, a ‘Safai Sathi’ from Patna said “We are six people including me and earn between Rs 13,000 to Rs 15,000 month. The food prices are high, and we are unable to afford a good meal. There is always tension in my family on how we can sustain like this and would go hungry someday. After I started working with the plastic waste management programme, they helped me with a ration card. Thank You for ensuring food for not only me but my family. This is an essential linkage we have been waiting for years.”
Launched in 2018 and currently operational in more than 30 locations, HCCB’s Plastic Waste Management program works towards fostering collaboration between citizens, communities, urban local bodies government departments and stakeholders for sustainable solutions in plastic waste management. The project has brought in savings of more than 1, 07,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions and more than 86,000 litres of oil has been avoided in the production of virgin plastic. The project engages with informal sector Safai Sathis to integrate them into the formal economy through self-help groups and facilitate their linkages to various inclusion initiatives like banking, identity cards, social security like insurance schemes, etc.
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