On India’s 69th Republic Day, The Bhalswa landfill near G T Karnal Raod, one of Delhi’s three trash mountains became an unusual site for hoisting the national flag. At least 100 waste pickers, men, women and children attended this event and sang the national anthem enthusiastically.
This was done to draw the Government’s attention to the fact that “a piece of the motherland cannot be left to rot in the name of a crude landfill” and also that there are “citizens of India too who deserve a clean and healthy working and living environment”, they said.
The 40 acres large and 50 meters high garbage mound receives waste from 50% of the city’s population. The head of programmes of the NGO Chintan, Chitra Mukherjee helped them organise the function and said that the arrangement was necessary to get people to think about the plight of waste pickers in our society. “About 3,000 such persons, most of whom who live in the Bhalsaw Dairy, segregate useful items from the fresh garbage that arrives in the truck daily. They fight the stink and dirt to serve a crucial function in our world. But they are looked down upon and work in extremely hazardous conditions separating trash with bare hands. After all this, they just earn about Rs. 200 per day, hardly enough to survive.”
The NGO crowd funded Rs.50, 000 to purchase 250 good quality N95 anti-pollution masks and distributed them among the waste pickers. Saira Bano, the head of the group of waste pickers called ‘Safai Sena’ said that there are many cases of chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and cancer. Some suffer from jaundice and diarrhoea and vomit every few days. She talks about lack of proper tools and gear required for working in such toxic environments and also that the government has no arrangement in place for education of the children who are forced to work in such conditions.
The Superintending Engineer of the North Municipal Corporation of Delhi (NMDC) A K Gupta was the Chief Guest at the ceremony. He said that they are trying their best to integrate the waste pickers in modern waste management system and to ensure basic amenities like public toilets, functional sewage systems, roads and clean drinking water.
Tags : #Waste_pickers #New_Delhi #Landfills #Human-Rights #clean #healthy #environment