I have been working at Bhalswa landfill in North West Delhi for as long as I can remember. Before getting married and moving to a house near the landfill, I used to come here all the way from Jahangirpuri to collect waste and sell it in the scrap market.
The income was better in the past. We would make INR 500–600 from sorting and selling e-waste; now we earn INR 200–250. How will we provide education for our children, pay for cylinder and electricity, buy clothes, or live?
Even though these days a lot of waste is sorted into dry and wet at source, the valuable scraps such as e-waste and especially its metal parts are taken away by garbage trucks even before they can enter our area. This happens because municipalities have an understanding with the private companies who own these trucks. Now, these companies have a monopoly over waste.
As informal waste workers, we don’t have a fixed salary; we survive on what we collect and sell on a daily basis. We have also asked the Delhi municipality to just hire us, but instead the government is focused on shutting down the Bhalswa dumping ground.
By segregating waste, we’re reducing pollution, we’re helping our rivers and drains stay clean. Without us, Delhi won’t be Delhi.
Shayra Bano is a member of Safai Sena, a union for informal waste workers in Delhi.
Know more: Read this article to learn more about the challenges of recycling in Delhi.
Do more: Connect with Shayra Bano at [email protected] to learn more about and support her work.