Waste pickers protest privatisation

They are fighting for their right to collect gargage


Neha Sethi | March 26, 2010

Women wastepickers march in solidarity
Women wastepickers march in solidarity

Sarubhai Waghmade is a waste picker from Pune. She has been segregating the wet and the dry waste from mounds of garbage for years now. She sells dry plastic waste to recyclers and earns Rs 50-100 in a day. But the privatisation of waste collection has meant that she lives in the constant fear of losing her daily job.

“Companies have already entered Mumbai and in soon we will our jobs because of them in Pune,” says Waghmade.

Waghmade and around a 1,000 more like her, from 20 cities, came together in Delhi on Thursday to demand their right to collect and segregate waste. Holding banners and shouting slogans, around 1,000 waste pickers rallied till Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

Malati of Chintan, an NGO which works with rag pickers in Delhi said, “This rally marks our call for attention to different ministries and also to people, whose garbage is collected by these waste pickers.”

The waste pickers are demanding that they should be registered by their urban local bodies and have an identity card that authorises them to collect, retain and sell waste. They are also demanding that waste to energy projects that use municipal solid waste should not be permitted.

“The collection of waste by private companies from embassies and hotels has hit us hard as these are the places which generate a lot of waste,” said Naseem, a waste picker from Delhi.

The NGOs, which got together under the banner of Alliance of Indian Wastepickers, have also submitted memorandums to S. Jaipal Reddy, minister of urban development, Mukul Wasnik, minister of social justice and empowerment and the ministry of labour and employment.



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