The country’s rag pickers have expressed “absolute happiness” in having found mention in a rule notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) earlier this week, the first time they have been “recognised” in Indian law. There are an estimated 15 lakh men and women who eke out a living by rummaging through garbage and landfill sites looking for material they can sell to small, unorganised scrap dealers who then recycle them. As they are unorganised, their main complaint is that authorities often bar them from landfill sites and garbage collection areas, which for them means a loss of income and livelihood. The ragpickers’ associations from 17 cities across India have now formed an “alliance” in Pune. Towards the end of January, about 200 ragpickers from the Alliance of Indian Waste pickers (AIW) gathered near Ahmedabad for the first national conference. Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was the chief guest, to whom they submitted a memorandum asking for recognition.
“Think of it — we are India’s ultimate cooling agents. We recover materials and feed them back into factories. Without our work, many more forests will be cut for paper pulp and many more mines will degrade the planet. There are over 15 lakh people like us in India and thanks to us, India has one of the highest recycling rates in the world,” the memorandum said. When the rules were notified by the Union Ministry on January 7, the announcement specifically mentioned the part about ragpickers.
“One of the major provisions under the new rules is the explicit recognition of the role of ragpickers. The new rules require the municipal authority to constructively engage agencies or groups working in waste management, including these wastepickers,” a press note announcing the rules said. Bharati Chaturvedi, who heads the Delhi-based Chintan environment group spoke to The Indian Express on behalf of AIW. She said the alliance was “absolutely very, very happy” about the mention of ragpickers in the rules. Chaturvedi was also present at the conference in Ahmedabad.
Chaturvedi, who was part of the committee that looked into the rules as it was being framed, said it did not matter if the mention was limited, since the rule was not about ragpickers but about plastics, and also since an insistence on paragraph after paragraph on ragpickers in the rules “will have been shot down during the deliberations anyway.” “That the term wastepickers is included in the rules itself means wastepickers will have a legal standpoint from which they can pressurise authorities to include them in the management of plastic waste,” she added. Source >>
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>