November 20, 2012
Greetings from Chintan! We are delighted to share with you our latest study titled “Give Back Our Waste”: What the Okhla Waste-to-Energy Plant has Done to Local Wastepickers.
Waste-to-Energy (WtE), the process of creating energy from waste, has gained broad appeal domestically and internationally with programs such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) providing funding for many WtE projects across the world. In India alone, 31 such facilities are expected to be funded, even as their technological appropriateness remains questionable. On the other hand, in countries such as India, a large number of people depend on collecting, segregating and recycling solid wastes to maintain their livelihoods and provide a crucial environmental and public health service to the city. To this end, this report summarizes the results of a socio-economic impacts assessment survey of waste pickers directly and indirectly linked to the Okhla landfill informal waste economy, nine months after the WtE plant began operations.
The Okhla landfill used to provide a means of livelihood to over 450 adults in the surrounding neighbourhoods, of which only 150 remain at the time of the publication of this report (a 75 percent decrease). Waste provides a crucial source of livelihood to many residents (approximately 88 percent) near the Okhla landfill and WtE plant even though it is arduous work and unpredictable in terms of its income generation possibilities. The WtE plant is cited as one of the main factors in decreased incomes of waste pickers. One of the most immediate impacts of decreased incomes has been the enlistment of previously non-working family members into the workforce and decreased school attendance for children. 67% of those whose children had stopped attending school cited having not enough money and having to enlist children as income earners as the reasons for their children stopping schooling. Based on these findings, the report outlines some key policy recommendations to ensure that this particular segment of the urban poor is not pushed further into poverty.
To read the entire report, please visit our website and download it by following this link