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Govt of India 'not taking cognizance' of life, dignity of waste collectors: DASAM meet

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights group, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), has complained that the Government of India is not taking cognizance of lives and dignities of the waste collectors on the ground, it is only on paper. "About four million waste collectors in India are suffering to government’s disability to implement its own rules and laws", it said.
Stating that most of them belong to Dalit, Adivasi and minority community, it noted, "They moved into big cities in search of livelihood and get entangled in the web of extortion and exploitation by civic bodies. This clearly shows that law in the capital is being mocked by the government’s implementing agencies." 
An account of waste picker community's meeting...

Text:

A meeting of more than 80 families of waste pickers was organized by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) and other organisations* at the Basti Vikas Kendra, New Seemapuri, Delhi.
The Central government launched Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rule 2016 to engage waste pickers in waste management, provide Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) to segregate recyclable wastes and to make the city clean and self-sustainable. These issues have also been the priorities of Municipal Corporation under respective municipal rules.
But community is very much desperate from the ways and means of SBM, SWM and Municipal rules are implemented at ground. Non-availability of MRF is a clear cut indicator of defeat of SWM Rule 2016. It is not only defeat of SWM Rules, it also defeats the purpose of government, extort money from waste pickers and environmental laws as follows:
  • Government is paying to contractors to pick up wastes from colonies and dump it to landfills.
  • Waste pickers have to buy wastes from government’s appointees like sanitary inspectors, contractors, divers of the waste carrying tippers, etc. Earlier waste pickers were collecting wastes from colonies at free and government had nothing to pay.
  • Environmental pollution is escalating due to government sponsored nexus involvement to collect and dump wastes in landfill.
The government is not taking cognizance of lives and dignities of the waste collectors on the ground, it is only on paper. About four million waste collectors in India are suffering to government’s disability to implement its own rules and laws. About 5 lakh waste collectors engaged in waste management only in the Delhi NCR area and most of them are from different states of the country. Most of them belong to Dalit, Adivasi and minority community. They moved into big cities in search of livelihood and get entangled in the web of extortion and exploitation by civic bodies. This clearly shows that law in the capital is being mocked by the government’s implementing agencies.
Almost 80 per cent of waste generated can be recycled with the help of informal waste collectors
In the eyes of law, waste is a resource. Almost 80 per cent of waste generated (50% wet waste + 30%) can be recycled with the help of informal waste collectors and be used as a resource. But the ground reality is entirely different – waste collectors/ segregators are trapped and used as easy source of extorting money by the implementing agencies. If they don’t pay bribes to the implementing agencies, they face atrocities and fake FIR cases.
Concluding the meeting DASAM leader Jahan Aara said that youth want engagement in livelihood. Parent teach children to earn livelihood to live. But the situation is not in favour of earning livelihood. Government should allow all youth to work and contribute in development otherwise youth will get engaged in other activities irrespective of likes and dislikes of their parents and the government.
Activist Hajara pointed out that in municipality election all waste pickers supported the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with the expectation to protect livelihood in waste picking and segregation. If AAP breaches and acts like the previous government then all waste pickers will teach a lesion in forthcoming election. She also expressed that in addition to buying wastes from the new government’s appointees in solid waste management they also pay bribes of Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 to the supervisor of municipality dustbins. Many other women raised similar complaints against the government. In days to come, waste pickers will resist at large scale against oppression and livelihood threats.
The waste pickers should be made them free from the clutches of nexus of government-appointees in solid waste management. The Solid Waste Management Rule 2016 should be implemented in so that the participation of waste pickers in it is ensured. The law and justice is in the interest of the government, waste pickers and environment.
#wasteworkersvoice #wasteworkersvoice #wasteworkersvoice #wasteworkersvoice
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*Janpahal, Waste pickers Welfare Foundation (WWF), Magadh Foundation, Sewerage Sambadh Karmachari Manch (SSKM), Research Institute for Dalit Adiwasi and Minorties (RIDAM), AIKMM, Ambedkarwadi Lekhak Sangh (ALS), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC

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