Illegal Bangladeshis are a big problem for Indian government, but a bigger problem for Seemapuri Slum Dwellers, most of them being Bengali Muslims often get discriminated by police, due to the misconception that they are Bangladeshis. They become easy targets for the police because they are a) Poor, b) Bengali speaking, c) Muslims, d) Illiterate. Although, the situation has improved in the recent past due the work by some NGOs in the area, they still struggle to live in their own country. The problems do not end here; constant harassment by police to get money, no water pipelines, no voter id cards, list is long. Problems from local mafia front add to their woes. Aabid is one of the many waste pickers living in Seemapuri slum; he leaves his jhuggi in the morning to collect waste from Shalimar Garden across the UP border. Like others, he has his share of problems. Earlier, he had various blocks of colony to collect waste, but in between he left for his hometown in Bengal due to illness. When he returned, other waste pickers had started working in his area. Now, he has no area to operate, he works with his mother-in-law in her area. He hopes that soon some NGO will help in solving his problem and getting his area back.
There are over 100,000 people working as waste pickers in the capital city of India. They help recycle between 9 to 15 percent of the solid waste produced by the city on a daily basis. This is substantial if one is to consider the fact that Delhi produces 7000 metric tones of solid waste a day.
Most of the trash-pickers living in Seemapuri slum are migrant workers coming from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Waste-pickers and their family members sort waste, which is later sold off to bigger recyclists.
Aadib setting up his trolley for carrying waste. One or two members of the rag-picker household leave their home in the morning to collect waste from their chosen housing societies.
Children in these slums are the worst affected. Due to poverty, only 10% of children see the face of schools.
They have no alternative but to help their families in daily work, and when they grow elder they join their parents in trash picking business.
Aadib takes entire morning to pick up waste from colonies, he even has to come back to Seemapuri in between to dump the waste, when his trolley fills up.
Due to the lack of formal education, these slum children join their parents in rag picking business.
Lack of potable as well as normal water is a big problem for Seemapuri slum dwellers, they bring water from nearby Sunder Nagar for daily use.
Working in the most unhygienic conditions round the clock, all the scavengers are highly prone to diseases.
While some rag pickers collect waste from household, others come to them and buy that sorted waste.
After collecting the waste, rag pickers bring all the waste to their homes in Seemapuri as they do not any designated sorting place.
Sorting the waste is the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole process but it helps the environment as well as recyclers a lot.
As part of a push to make the city cleaner and greener for the Commonwealth Games, Municipal Corporation of Delhi has privatized seven of the city’s 12 administrative zones, effectively sidelining the waste pickers. Seemapuri trash pickers are safe for the moment as they pick up waste in UP, but what about the rest?