People from the community of Baluchi who hail from Haryana are the people who have moved to big cities and have taken up the job of keeping the cities clean, and now you go anywhere around India you will find these community men and women doing the job of cleaning the city.
They neither are doctors nor are they related to the medical field, but rather these people keep us hygienic. Are you guys going bonkers that whom are we addressing; well they are none other than the sweeper community (safaiwala) working in Powai.
The moment we hear this word “safaiwala” (in the past they were called bhangi, though Mahatma Gandhi had called them ‘Harijan’) there is an image which automatically crops in everyone’s mind that he/she would be shabby and stinking. But actually how many of us realize this fact that if these guys are not there then we all would be in real trouble. This community takes the pain of keeping our surrounding clean and tidy, this the community which collects waste and garbage from each and every house, every society and dump it at a distant place from us. If these guys won’t be there then will it be practically possible for us to keep our surrounding clean. No Not At All Possible.
Planet Powai spoke with one such person from this community named Ajmer Chauhan who works in one of the Hiranandani society. We try to put across some insights about them, their life and their work.
People from the community of Baluchi who hail from Haryana are the people who have moved to big cities and have taken up the job of keeping the cities clean, and now you go anywhere around India you will find these community men and women doing the job of cleaning the city. Now even the demand for these sweepers has increased drastically because of the rising population so these people have started bringing in their relatives and friends from their villages to help them with chores.
Powai today is developed like any other part of the city and there are huge complexes in Powai like Hiranandani, Raheja, Nahar, Lake Homes, Powai Vihar where the societies require such sweepers to keep their premises clean.
As per our findings, there are around 500-550 Sweepers in and around Powai, There is a unique way how this community operates that is in a particular complex or building only one family does all the chores of sweeping and cleaning. The ladies of the safaiwala family take care of the sweeping part, while the men go door to door to collect the garbage and accumulate the same in the society bin from where the Municipality vehicles come and collect the total waste and take it to the dumping ground.
By doing this a family makes around Rs 5000-6000 from every building. Looking at the ongoing development around the city, these people also keep a track of all the new emerging complexes in the vicinity, whenever there is a new building which is ready for its occupants these people call up on some or the other family from their village to take up the sweeping job for the new society. These people acquire contracts for new building through their rapport or through reference. Most of the time when a new family is called up on for a new building, this gives them an option of having secured earning once the family called upon reaches here.
Ajmer along with his wife Kamala and sons Vijay and Sandeep Chauhan work for the Daffodil building, they ensure that the premise of this building is neat and tidy and by doing so they earn daily bread and butter. There is also a kind of ritual with this community wherein all the females in the family have to help their husband with his task and also take care of the chores at home.
Ajmer also said that kids from his community rarely study and also at the end of the day they land up in the family work of sweeping and cleaning, even there are few who also studies but even they end up taking up odd jobs of driver, so rather what’s wrong in doing the family business. But again we never are against our kids who are keen in studying.
After the hectic day of work, we are able to make extra amount of Rs 25-30 by selling few useful things to the scrap dealer or bhangarwala, and these things we get from the garbage that we collected throughout the day. Though we earn very little but we are happy with the work that we are doing and are proud of our duties as we ensure that the vicinity is clean and tidy.
When Planet Powai enquired that how do they feel when people avoid coming close to them, He said, “We do know that our body stinks as we have taken up altogether different task of keeping the society clean and we are happy about our work. No work is big or small, just think what would happen if our community doesn’t exist? So everyone in society has some or the other role to play. Again once we are done with our job we too freshen up and lead a normal life just like everyone does. But sometimes we feel bad when people neglect us because our body stinks but on the contrary they forget that it is because of us their vicinity is neat and clean else they would be forced to stay in a stinky and shabby atmosphere.”
This is how that many Ajmers around the country are ensuring that we live in a neat and tidy atmosphere; this is how this community strives in today’s world and plays their major role.