'Engaging ragpickers is way forward'

'Engaging ragpickers is way forward'

Doorstep waste collection should be done “exclusively” by wastepickers so that dry waste is segregated from the wet waste at the source, providing the much needed solution to the problem of solid waste management in the city, according to an NGO working for the cause.

The civic agencies should formally engage wastepickers, kabariwalas and recyclers for better disposal of waste in the city, said NGO Chintan.

“The first way of engaging the informal recycling sector such as wastepickers and kabaris to clean the city in a sustainable manner is that the doorstep collection of waste should be done only by wastepickers. The civic agencies should allow identified wastepickers to collect waste from households, offices and commercial buildings. Service fee can be collected by them with a receipt or by local bodies and minimum wages to be paid to wastepickers,” said Chitra Mukherjee, Head of Programmes, Operations at Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group.

Second, there should be adequate space to store and segregate waste.
“The Delhi Master Plan does not ensure adequate space for ward and colony-level to store and segregate or recycle waste. Space for waste segregation, composting and storage at colony, ward, district and municipal level is the need of the hour.” she added.
The privatisation of solid waste management has also made the matters worse, said the NGO.

“Privatisation of waste management services by engaging private companies has taken place in Delhi for the past eight years. Neither has it cleaned the city nor shown a way to include the poor wastepickers. Instead, it has adversely impacted the informal sector as the latter lose access to their means of livelihood,” said Chitra.

According to Chintan, there are around 1.5 lakh members in the informal sector comprising wastepickers, kabaris, doorstep waste collectors, itinerant and recyclers across the city. Chintan partners with Safai Sena, a registered group of wastepickers, which collects waste in areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

The NGO said that the existing contracts of private companies have expired, and new tenders for engaging waste management companies are being prepared. “This will only result in corporate monopoly. The civic agencies should not be allowed to tender to a single contractor to handle the entire waste disposal mechanism from doorstep collection to transportation and dumping.

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