The State Government of Maharashtra was notified of this inclusion of wastepickers on 7th May 2013. On 6th June 2013, this issual reached the Maharashtra Secretary of Social Justice and Special Assistance. However, since June 2013, there has been no progress by the state government in implementing this scheme for children of wastepickers. This long delay has resulted in loss of scholarships in crores of rupees. About 60000 beneficiaries have been left without this social welfare assistance. It is not that the state government has to incur any of these costs. This Scheme is completely sponsored by the Central Government.
Wastepickers change name of Department to Social (In)justice; resolve to agitate indefinitely till Children get Scholarships
On Friday, the 25th of July 2014, 500 wastepickers of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat gathered outside the Social Welfare Commissioner’s Office in a programme to change the name of the department to Social (In)justice. The demand from the group has come after a year of meetings with the Minister Shri Shivajirao Moghe, the Secretary Shri RD Shinde and other officials of the department.
For the past year the waste pickers have been demanding the implementation of the ‘Pre-matriculation Scholarship scheme for Children of those Engaged in “Unclean Occupations”. The Ministry of Social Justice and Special Assistance, Government of Maharashtra has not issued a notification regarding the inclusion of children of waste pickers in the centrally sponsored scheme. This has resulted in loss of scholarships of crores of rupees to 60,000 beneficiaries in Maharashtra for the year 2013-14.
On Thursday, the Hon, Chief Minister was in Pune where a delegation of waste pickers and children met with Mr. Prithviraj Chavan and put forth their demands with regard to the scheme.
a) Immediately notify the inclusion of children of waste pickers in the Pre-matric scholarship for children of those in unclean occupations
b) Implement the scheme with retrospective effect from June 2013, so that children are not penalised for the delays on the part of the Maharashtra Government.
c) Match the scholarship amount given by the central government from the state budget for children in high school
After inaugurating the new board outside the Social (In)justice department, Dr.Baba Adhav addressed the gathering saying he was “ dismayed that the Government of Maharashtra is not able to implement an education assistance scheme for the poorest and most marginalized sections of the population even when it is 100% sponsored by the central government.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Adhav, the gathering also resolved to agitate peacefully and indefinitely from Monday 28th July 2014 in pursuit of the demands to secure a better future for their children. “This is the only way we can shake the Government of Maharashtra out of its apathy”, said Suman Shinde, a waste picker who met with the CM and spoke to her colleagues at the dharna.
Copies of the resolution were sent via speed post to The Hon. CM, Hon. Deputy CM and the Minister of Social Justice and Special Assistance.