Rag-pickers to work as ‘environment warriors’

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New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) An institute, set up with the support of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has started an initiative to train rag-pickers how to segregate garbage and to get the best price for things collected by them.

Around 2,000 rag-pickers from north India, primarily Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon, are now on board for waste management projects, Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), a brainchild of IIT Delhi, said in a statement.

“Despite their crucial service, India’s rag-pickers struggle for survival. They continue to remain exposed to harmful substances, are paid poor wages and lack civic amenities,” the statement said.

It explained that after segregation, any recyclable item is sold to the ‘kabadiwala’ while the wet waste is sold as cattle feed at a very nominal price.

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A major problem they face is the underlying bribing and outsourcing arrangements that have been formed in the neighbourhood, it said. Having access to waste has become a challenge as the Municipal Corporation has started collecting waste from residential societies.

“So now, they have to pay MCD officials to buy waste from them in order to collect valuable scraps, and even when they go to collect from the open waste bins, the MCD officials demand a commission.”

According to an IPCA study, collecting waste from 200 houses would result Rs 20,000-25,000 which was good for unskilled labourer.

“We are working to get them better prices and also to help them fight with the health hazards that come along with the job,” said Ashish Jain, IPCA Founder and Director.

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