As you know, the All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh (AIKMM, All India Waste Workers’ Federation) has been working for the rights of the informal sector in Delhi in recent years. It has been demanding that the government recognize waste workers for their contributions to waste management and their integration to the formal solid waste management. Back in 2007, the Delhi Government gave health safety kits containing an apron, mask, shoes, and gloves to the waste pickers, which assisted our initiative. But even then, AIKMM believed that this is not the solution because it does not address the problem of ensuring waste workers their right to employment.
From that time, AIKMM has been demanding that the government listen to the workers’ issues. But the surge of privatization that began in 2005 impacted the waste sector and now all of Delhi’s solid waste management has been sold to the hands of national and international companies. Moreover, we’ve seen that the government talks about the “aam aadmi” (the working man), but in practice they work for the elite.
There is no doubt that private companies have no interest in securing livelihoods or environmental benefits. They have only one concern, which is how to increase profits. AIKMM conducted a survey in the NDMC area, which found that privatization was the underlying reason that informal sector workers are being pushed out of this line of work and into further poverty. According to the NDMC, 250 tons of garbage is produced every day. This also includes 80 tons of dry waste that isn’t documented in NDMC’s records. These recyclables are collected by the informal sector workers and sold to junk dealers. If we estimate that the rate of these discards to be Rs.5 per kg, this equals to Rs. 4 lath every day and a whopping Rs. 14.4 crore each year for collecting garbage. This in addition to the Rs.4.59 crores a year that the company makes on the collection and disposal contract with the NDMC .
This is an unacceptable situation that not only pushes the poorest of the poor, the waste pickers into further poverty and handsomely rewards the rich; ironically under a government that has come to power based on its promises to eradicate poverty.
To make matters worse for the waste pickers and the already deteriorated environment of the city the government has planned to burn all of Delhi’s waste to at 3 locations across Delhi. It is very clear that the only things that are worthwhile for burning are the very recyclables like paper and plastics that waste workers rely on for their food. According to the Delhi Government own figures nearly 3.5 lakh people make a living through this occupation. The garbage burning in turn will cause toxic emissions and produce deadly dioxins and furans known to cause cancers in humans.
Toward realizing these demands to fight for their livelihoods and to protect the environment of Delhi, waste workers will march on 29 August. They will need all your support. Please do mark the 29th of August in your agendas.
Date: 29 August 2012
Time: 11:00 am (Assembly begins at Raj Ghat)
Place: Raj Ghat To Delhi Secretariat , Delhi