Waste pickers’ access to the waste that would be diverted from Okhla and Ghazipur landfill sites to the waste-to-energy plants will drastically reduce, in turn, affecting their livelihood dependent on informal waste recycling and possibly depriving their children the right to education, a study pointed out on Thursday.
The study ‘Waste-to-Energy or Waste of Energy?’ by NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group has looked at the impact of waste-to-energy plants in Okhla (2,000 tonnes) and Ghazipur (projected to be 2,000 tonnes) for which the waste would be diverted from the Okhla and Ghazipur landfill sites by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
The study has pointed how the informal waste recycling is the single source of income for residents of slum clusters in Ghazipur, Okhla and Tughlaqabad and in absence of this income, the waste pickers will seek to increase mobility and collect waste from surrounding areas. Further, in order to continue to earn, it is likely that all family members will be forced to work in productive labour, including children who will be removed from school and put to work.
This implies, if the waste to energy plants at Okhla and Ghazipur do not give jobs to waste pickers, then most likely, more children will end up working instead of studying. In other words, policies for solid waste in Delhi are clashing with the Right to Education,” said Bharati Chaturvedi, Chintan’s director.
There are about 690 and 50 children at Ghazipur and Okhla slums respectively, of which only 221 and 22 attend school respectively. The NGO suggests that the negative impact can be offset if waste-pickers are meaningfully incorporated into Delhi’s solid waste management plan. “In addition to being offered job in the waste-to-energy plants, the waste pickers should be given formal permission to engage in door-to-door collection and recycle the waste they collect,” the study report suggested.