PROBLEMS FACED BY RAG PICKERS7
STATE OF THE LEGISLATION8
NEEDS OF RAG PICKERS9
PRIVATISATION OF WASTE11
A CASE STUDY: DELHI,MUMBAI,KOLKATA,CHENNAI12
ORGANISING THE UNORGANISED13
Over fifteen lakh individuals across India work as scrap and waste collectors, earning their livelihood from the collection and sale of paper, plastic, metal and glass scrap to recycling industries. Among the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and underprivileged class in the urban labour market, occupying the lowest rung of the poverty groups, is the class of rag pickers. This dynamic but unregulated sector in the expanding economy depends directly on retrieving waste for their livelihood. The word rag picking has no precise meaning. However, it has been defined as a refuse occupation, which can support people when they have no other opportunity for earning. More precisely, the rag or paper picker is defined as one ‘who makes his/her livelihood by picking up waste paper, plastic, rags, bottles, tins, metal pieces, discarded and broken containers from road side dustbins, streets, garbage heaps and sells them to nearby retailers. Rag picking is one of the most inferior economic activities in the urban informal sector, largely undertaken by children belonging to weaker sections of the society, for the survival and for supplementing their family income.
India’s booming urbanization brings the problem of waste management. As more and more people are migrating towards the cities, the amount of waste is increasing at a high pace and waste management is likely to become a critical issue in the coming years. Rag pickers play an important, but usually unrecognised role in the waste management system of Indian cities. They collect garbage in search of recyclable items that can be sold to scrap merchant (paper,...