They’re the invisible force behind all the clean public spaces we walk, drive and breathe in. Yet, there’s hardly any thought put into making the lives of these civic body workers better.
In a laudable initiative, 16-year-old Siddharth Runwal has set up 12 water purifiers at nine different Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) outposts in Khar, Mumbai, with the aim of making clean drinking water available to the civic body workers and rag pickers.
Image for representation only. Source: By Hitesh Ashar, via Wikimedia Commons
Khar Central Chowki is the first BMC outpost where the water purifier has been set up and over 70 BMC workers are already benefiting from the initiative, according to an NDTV report. Eleven more water purifiers are expected to be set up by the end of the month. Once all the 12 water purifiers are in place, as many as 1,200 workers will have access to clean drinking water.
Siddharth Runwal, a student of Class 11, says, “The idea occurred to me about four months ago when I saw three BMC workers plunge into sewers without proper safety equipment. I thought that the deplorable condition needs to be changed immediately.”
According to Mumbai Mirror, initially Siddharth had thought of providing safety equipment to the workers. However, when he visited different BMC offices, he realised the workers often don’t use the safety equipment despite it being provided. Siddharth then changed his mind and decided to focus on helping them improve their health conditions. After examining different ideas, the one he found most feasible for himself and useful for the workers was setting up water purifiers.
“In Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, there are nine stations in total and in these nine stations, there are 1200 workers who come day in and day out to wash their hands and drink water. I realized that if I install just these nine filters, I am impacting 1200 people’s lives,” Siddharth told NDTV. Siddharth raised Rs. 60,000 for his initiative with the help of several NGOs and individuals.
A contract worker who sweeps Mumbai roads, Lakhan Thadani is happy that now he has access to clean drinking water. “This purified water is good to drink. Whereas, the water we drink while we are out at work, the municipality water, is not filtered and hence sometimes contaminated,” he says.
The Junior Overseer, Solid Waste Management H/West Ward, Chandrakant Tambe was the man in BMC who helped Siddharth carry out his plan. “These labourers are majorly affected by three factors—health, economy and alcoholism. I advised Siddharth to make any one of the factors the centre of his focus. He was confused between many ideas. But after several meetings, we arrived at this idea,” Tambe told Mumbai Mirror.