Waste-pickers’ views will be reflected in policy: Ramesh


Ahmedabad: Waste-pickers’ views will be taken while drafting policy on waste disposal, union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said Friday.

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Inaugurating the first-ever national conference of waste pickers, organised under the aegis of Alliance of Indian Waste-Pickers (AIW), at Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Ramesh said his department will take into consideration the representation by SEWA and AIW in drafting the four policies – municipal solid waste management policy, e-waste management policy, plastic waste management policy and Environment policy.

Ramesh also supported the idea of setting up the Green Livelihood Centrrs with SEWA to create alternative livelihood opportunities so that the children of waste recyclers have new and better opportunities.

“This will be a process which will take between three to five years but till then the government will definitely safeguards the income of waste recyclers,” he said.

According to SEWA general secretary Jyoti Macwan, more than 45,000 women waste pickers have been organized by her group in Gujarat alone.

Together with AIW, more than 15 lakh waste pickers in India have been organized in India and earn their livelihood from collection of paper, plastic, metal and glass scrap for sale to recycling industries. Waste pickers supply the raw material to recycling industries while keeping the city clean, thus protecting the environment and reducing municipal costs, she added.

Sharing her experience, Shanta Parmar, a waste collector, said the municipal corporation had privatised this activity in the city and displaced thousands of waste collectors resulting into loss of work and employment affecting the education of their children.

All waste pickers at the conference said they were not against privatisation and mechanisation, but the process has to be made inclusive and their work and livelihood needs to be safeguard.

They called for their organisations should also be involved in the process and the government should also create alternative employment and livelihood opportunities for the future generation of waste recyclers, they demanded.