“Picking Our Trash”

— Gaurav Shukla

Aabid is one of the many waste pickers living in Seemapuri slum of Delhi; he leaves his jhuggi in the morning to collect waste from Shalimar Garden across the UP border.
Being a Bengali Muslim, he is often discriminated by police, due to the misconception of being  a Bangladeshi.
Waste Pickers like him are easy targets for the police because they are a) Poor, b) Bengali speaking, c) Muslims, d) Illiterate. Although, the situation has improved in the recent past due the initiatives taken by various  NGOs in the area, they still struggle to live in their own country.
Like others, Aabid  has his share of other problems.
Earlier, he had various blocks of colony to collect waste, but in between he left for his hometown in West Bengal due to illness. When he returned, other waste pickers had started working in his area. Now, he has no area to operate, he works with his mother-in-law in her area. He hopes that soon some NGO will help him solve his problem and getting his area back.

There are over 100,000 people working as waste pickers in the Indian capital. They help recycle between 9 to 15 percent of the solid waste produced by the city on a daily basis. This is substantial if one is to consider the fact that Delhi produces 7000 metric tones of solid waste a day.

Most of the trash-pickers living in Seemapuri slum are migrant workers coming from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Waste-pickers and their family members sort waste, which is later sold off to bigger recyclists.

Aabid setting up his trolley for carrying waste. One or two members of the rag-picker household leave their home in the morning to collect waste from their chosen housing societies.

Children in these slums are the worst affected. Living 24X7 in trash, they are highly prone to diseases.

Without access to formal education, they spend time helping their families in household work.

Aabid takes entire morning to pick up waste from colonies, he even has to come back to Seemapuri in between to dump the waste, when his trolley fills up.

While the parents are away collecting trash, the children are often left unsupervised.

Lack of potable as well as normal water is a big problem for Seemapuri slum dwellers, they bring water from nearby Sunder Nagar for daily use.

Aabid like other trash pickers work under most unhygienic conditions whole day, and yet earns less than Rs. 3,000 a month.

Some rag pickers collect waste from households, others come to them and buy sorted materials from them.

After collecting the waste, Aabid brings all the waste to his home in Seemapuri as rag pickers do not any designated sorting place.

Sorting the waste is the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole process but it helps the environment as well as recyclers a lot.

As part of a push to make the city cleaner and greener for the Commonwealth Games, Municipal Corporation of Delhi has privatized seven of the city’s 12 administrative zones, effectively sidelining the waste pickers. Seemapuri trash pickers are safe for the moment as they pick up waste in UP, but what about the rest?


~ by Fotoramus on April 24, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: