As many as 2,118 ragpickers have been identified by the Odisha government for waste collection, segregation and recycling process. Out of all, 618 women are being trained by 55 self-help groups based in Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur.

The Times of India quoted 35-year-old ragpicker Subha Laxmi as saying: “Apart from an assured monthly income, it will be a dignified job”.

Laxmi, who has three children, completed her training to drive a battery operated vehicle for collecting waste from the doorsteps of the residents.

“I want my children to study. They will be encouraged more if I do an honourable job,” Bhubaneswar’s Kalibari slum-based ragpicker said.

Laxmi will get a monthly salary of Rs 7,000. She will work for in a group of three for four hours daily under the guidance of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation.

Besides ragpickers, the Odisha government has involved trans-genders and slum dwellers in the urban governance. Recently, Odisha was bestowed with the Janaagraha’s Best State award and Best Civic Agency award for its urban governance model.

Housing and urban development secretary G Mathi Vathanan said: “Integration of ragpickers in municipal waste management is an essential eligibility criteria for the chief minister’s cleanest city award, an annual state ranking of cities and towns announced in December which would be similar to the Centre’s Swachh Survekshan.”

The performers will be given cash reward by the state government. Under the Jaga Mission, the Odisha government provided land to slumdwellers. As many as 60,000 slumdwellers have already received land entitlement under the initiative, while another 20,000 are next in the queue.