Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs said that “The National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM), which seeks to reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor through access to gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, has expanded its ambit to cover some additional sectors in the informal economy.”
Singh further said: “In addition to providing social security, strengthening tenure security and improving basic infrastructure and public services in informal settlements where urban poor are concentrated, these initiatives are likely to reduce vulnerability and improve working conditions.”
While complimenting the National Institute of Urban Affairs for organizing this event, the Minister said that focusing on waste pickers, street vendors, brick-kiln and home based workers which together form the largest proportion of informal workers, this workshop intends to address informality with all its diversity and identify the barriers and opportunities in informal ‘place of work’ with a focus on women. The challenges and innovations; the role of city planning and the question of ‘formalisation’ will be deliberated. Finally, a roadmap shaping the future of ‘work in India’ will be worked out exploring the role of National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) and National Missions in widening employment opportunities and creating appropriate policies for the urban informal workforce.
Earlier referring to the issue of informal employment, the Minister that this includes all those workforce who are neither covered by any social security net nor have any form of job security and the informal sector includes enterprises that take the form of unincorporated partnerships and proprietorships (having less than 10 workers). Together, these individuals and enterprises form an informal economy which is so pervasive that it is estimated to provide livelihood (subsistence) to around 80 percent of the urban workforce in India. This is why the Economic Survey 2017-18 acknowledges the fact that the employment sector in India poses structural challenges because it is dominated by informal workers. He also stressed on the need to acknowledge the interlinkage between formal and informal sectors
Puri emphasised on the significant contribution made by the waste-pickers in the domain of solid waste management but who are invariably informal labour working under hazardous conditions, and mostly women and children belonging to disadvantaged communities. These informal waste pickers and recyclers play a critical role in managing urban waste and helping us achieve the Clean India Mission. These workers reclaim, reprocess and recycle 81 percent of the solid waste generated in cities – that would otherwise be disposed of in open unsanitary dumps or burned in incinerators.
Puri also acknowledged the important contribution made by the organisations like SEWA, WIEGO and the Tata Trusts in supporting women in the informal sector.