A campaign to highlight the crucial role of informal waste collectors in managing the city’s garbage issue was launched for the second time on Thursday.
‘#Invaluable Recyclers’ was held in collaboration with musician Vasu Dixit, environmentalist Vaani Murthy, and actor and stand-up comedian Shraddha Jain.
They vowed to spread awareness and compassion among Bengalurians on the plight of the invisible waste pickers and the need to recognise them.
On this occasion, Dixit released his song ‘Happy Number’ highlighting the contribution of waste pickers who are often stigmatised by society for the work they do.
Soma Katiyar, Executive Creative Director of BBC Media Action that conceptualised the event, said the idea was to sensitise people about the crucial role of informal waste pickers and celebrate their contribution to solid waste management in the city.
“An estimated 38,3250 tonnes of waste are stopped from getting added to landfills (because of their invaluable contribution),” Katiyar said. “We not only celebrate them but make sure they achieve a higher standard of living.”
A panel discussion involving Vasu Dixit, Soma Katiyar, Karthik Gubbi, Nalini (co-founder of Hasiru Dala), Vani Murthy, Indira, an informal waste picker, and Mansoor, founder of a waste collection centre, stressed the value of sensitisation and how it can change the lives of informal waste collectors.
“Earlier, we were disregarded, but with their help, people are sensitive, and they now segregate dry and wet waste at home, adopting proper procedures,” Indira said.
Gouramma, an informal waste collector, said she came across Hasiru Dala at the age of 15. “They told us why we should have an employment identity card or pension. We were given vaccination and educated on Covid-19,” she said.
“Earlier, we lived close to drains and were harassed. Sometimes, people would barge (into our shelters) and bulldozers flattened our houses once. Now, I have managed to acquire a loan and build a house for myself,” Gouramma added.
The campaign ventured to reveal the other side of waste disposal and how neglecting that aspect would negatively impact the society and environment.