The untold story of Mumbai's conservancy workers

About 40,000 conservancy workers, also known as sweepers, are employed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. These workers collect the city's garbage, sweep the streets, clean the gutters, load and unload garbage trucks and work in the dumping grounds.

They have little or no education. Without exception, all of them despise their work. They are either completely ignored or looked down upon with disgust by the rest of society. They have to work in the midst of filth, with no protective gear, not even access to water for washing off the slime. Most of them are alcoholics and live in poverty, in dismal housing. They are perpetually in debt despite earning what, by Indian standards, is a decent wage of US $152 per month. The workers abuse their wives and children. And when the husbands die (usually at a young age), the despised job passes to the widows. The despair continues.

"A few years ago, quite by accident, I descended into the "living hell" A phrase which quite accurately describes the life of these workers. What I saw shook me to the core of my being. That thousands of men and women that were living and working in such dehumanising conditions, filled me with rage and shame. My rage and shame, their faith and trust, these are the forces that have impelled me to "search for dignity and justice", to tell the "untold story of conservancy workers."
sudharak olwe