This Essay Studies The Informal Waste Management System In India In The Context Of Spontaneous Order And A Libertarian Tradition.

3129 words - 13 pages

What A Waste!From Rags to Riches- The Kabari TradeSolid waste management is supposed to be under the purview of municipal authorities namely the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) and the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi). Several unaccounted for groups however, are significant contributors to this process. Urban solid waste is typically a mixture of household, construction, commercial, toxic industrial and hospital waste.HOW MUCH WASTE IN THE CAPITAL?!On an average, Delhi generates 4000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day, which consists of about 32% compost-able matter. Of this 32%: ImageThe unorganised sector of 'kabariwalas' or junk traders form an important spoke in the wheel of solid waste management. Waste-pickers (alias rag pickers, scavengers and the like...) traditionally come from highly vulnerable social backgrounds who have little options other than to live by collecting and selling recyclable materials out of urban solid wastes. The informal sector recycling trade activities namely segregation, collection, sale and purchase of recyclable materials, and the actual process of recycling at recycling units largely covers what kabariwalas do.Kabariwalas also called 'itinerant waste collectors'; buy, recyclable waste such as newspaper, glass containers, tin cans etc from residents and shopkeepers. Waste is gathered from what is discarded by households, commercial establishments and industries from municipal wastes. Larger commercial establishments and industries sell the recyclable waste (in segregated form or otherwise) to waste dealers in bulk, who then sell it to recyclers. Kabariwalas sell their collection to waste dealers. Then there are agents who facilitate transactions between medium / large waste dealers and recycling unit owners. They usually sell the collected waste to the local waste dealer on a daily basis, as they have no place to store the waste. Since they have little savings they depend on the waste dealer for loans and advances.Waste trade activities undertaken by this informal sector is valuable simply because it leads to valuable waste material recovery and recycling, as such it is crucial to the broader framework of urban waste management. It calls for only small capital investment, responds directly to local needs and demands, requires low capital investment, ensures livelihood of a significant number of urban poor and reduces the environmental burden. The tragedy is that there is close to no benefit derived by the lowest link in the chain of solid waste management i.e. the kabariwalas.A study conducted by National Labour Institute (NLI) in 1997-1998 found waste picking to be the fourth largest occupation for street children in Delhi. The study estimates that the number of kabariwalas in Delhi is between 80,000 and 100,000.Of these: ImageThe same study found that "On the whole either both men and women within the household are engaged in waste picking or only the women are involved. Often the children assist...

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