Moushumi Ghosh Roy moushumi_gr at yahoo.co.in
Wed Dec 1 20:12:17 IST 2004

Dear friends, 

Here is a signature campaign for recognition and improved work of the informal sector, such as waste pickers, kabaris etc. These are people who recycle the waste that you and I throw out. The letter is self-explanatory. We request you to please sign up by emailing us your name and contact  details at info at chintan-india.org. Please also pass this on to as many people as you think will be interested. The last date for sending in your email is December 15th 2004. 


Bharati Chaturvedi

Director, Chintan





Smt. Kumari Selja

Minister of State (Independent Charge)

Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation

Nirman Bhawan, 

Maulana Azad Road, 

New Delhi -110011

                                                                         1st December 2004


Dear Smt. Kumari Selja,

We are all aware that the Delhi government has declared the cut off date for segregation of waste at source as January 1st 2003. As people begin to segregate waste, the recyclables will have to go for recycling. In India, the recycling takes place through the informal sector. This sector includes both wastepickers and kabaris or traders-big and small. In the specific case of Delhi, it has been seen that 

   Almost 1 out of every 100 persons is engaged in some form of recycling at different levels. 
   In all, the efforts of the sector increase the value of a unit of waste plastic from zero to 700% by sheer washing, trading and selling alone. 
   A strong work force of 2 lakh self employed people comprising of men, women, children wastepickers clean up 2,000 tonnes of garbage daily saving the MCD 12 lakhs of rupees picking up between 9-15% of the wastes.

They are indispensable to recycling because they pick and sort the waste, bail it according to the types and clean it up. The recyclers of Delhi are our biggest allies in our quest for segregation. In spite of being the backbone of the recycling chain in India, they are a marginalized group

·          The law doesn’t recognise them and there are no facilities for them to improve their working conditions or upgrade their work. 

·         Wastepickers have very poor access to basic facilities such as sanitation, clean water or medical facilities, despite the cuts and injuries they sustain during their work.  

·         They are exposed to numerous toxins during their work, such as the deadly dioxins that causes cancer and developmental problems. 

Yet they are often unable to access medical care for ailments due to their status / image. They are not welcomed in government hospitals and are under confident of accessing even the most basic facilities. Urban Master Plans choose to ignore this strong work force without whom the cities would choke on their own filth. As citizens who benefit from the free services of this sector, we demand that:

   Wastepickers and kabaris are adopted in the proposed list of informal workers in Delhi’s third Master Plan. 
   The government recognize wastepickers as vital service providers  
   Recognise wastepickers’ rights over recyclable waste
   Include wastepickers and the recycling sector in community and zonal plans related to waste, as well as in any privatisation of waste scheme. 
   The social security schemes for the unorganised sector should be implemented sincerely. 


It is important to take these measures to help the informal recyclers work in greener and safer environment. 


Yours sincerely



Name:                                 Contact Details                     Signature




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