Rag pickers plan to walk to Mamata’s residence after losing job to WALL-E like garbage compactors in Kolkata | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Rag pickers plan to walk to Mamata’s residence after losing job to WALL-E like garbage compactors in Kolkata

If CM can help out Singur farmers, she will help us too, say city’s rag pickers

kolkata Updated: Oct 19, 2016 11:23 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
The rag-pickers who dwell in slums and pavements, tour the streets, lanes and by lanes in Kolkata sifting through the garbage to pick up paper, plastic bag, tin, iron scarps and bottles. Even two years ago, each individual used to earn Rs 300 per day with four to five hours of work. Now, despite devoting more than 12 hours, the income has dropped to an average of less than Rs 50 per day.
The rag-pickers who dwell in slums and pavements, tour the streets, lanes and by lanes in Kolkata sifting through the garbage to pick up paper, plastic bag, tin, iron scarps and bottles. Even two years ago, each individual used to earn Rs 300 per day with four to five hours of work. Now, despite devoting more than 12 hours, the income has dropped to an average of less than Rs 50 per day.(HT Photo)

“You have cared and saved the livelihood of Singur farmers, please help us too,” city’s rag pickers say to Mamata Banerjee.

They have informed the chief minister’s office that they will stage a padayatra from Park Circus to Kalighat to draw the CM’s attention to their plight.

With KMC introducing compactors and Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, about 20,000 rag pickers have been deprived of their livelihood in the city. They now want a rehabilitation plan from the government. The number of rag pickers is 1.1 lakh in greater Kolkata and Howrah.

Read:Rag-pickers to be trained in managing waste

“Our livelihood is gone. The open vats have been replaced by giant compactor machines and we can’t reach their entrails to sift garbage. In almost all neighbourhoods KMC sends vans to collect garbage. We have lost our livelihood. We are glad that Mamata Banerjee helped the farmers of Singurs. We want to reach out to her and appeal to save us and our families,” said Md Azad, senior member of Rag pickers Association.

The association was floated with the help of a city-based NGO, Tiljala Shed Camp, which provides education and medicines to the community in various parts of the city, including Park circus, Tiljala, Topisa and Rajabazar.

On behalf of the rag pickers, the NGO placed a formal letter to CM”s office on Monday. The rag- pickers, a few hundred of them with posters and placards, plan to march from Park Circus to Kalighat, where they want to hand over their petition to the CM. It will be a silent march.

According to NGOs the over 1.1 Lakh rag pickers in greater Kolkata have no social security. Many of them have no voters identity card or ration cards. They are a marginalised community who after loss of livelihood are likely to fall for addiction and criminal activities. There is an urgent need for rehabilitation or government schemes for this community. (HT Photo)

“We want these helpless rag-pickers to be part of the development initiative of Mamata Banerjee. These people have no social security, no jobs and no future. We appeal to the chief minister to give them alternate livelihood. They can be trained and included in Swacch Bharat Abhiyan,” said Tausif Rehman, vice president of the NGO.

According to the NGO, there is little or no government sponsored schemes for the welfare of the rag-pickers, neither they are entitled for central or state schemes for labour.

“If there is no help coming, they may be forced into addictions, stealing and other anti-social activities. Something needs to be done immediately. We are trying to spread awareness about the community with MLAs and MPs,” Rehman added.

Read:Sachin Tendulkar comes to ragpickers’ rescue

The rag-pickers who dwell in slums and pavements, tour the streets, lanes and by lanes in Kolkata sifting through the garbage to pick up paper, plastic bag, tin, iron scarps and bottles. Even two years ago, each individual used to earn Rs 300 per day with four to five hours of work. Now, despite devoting 12 hours, the income has dropped to an average of less than Rs 50.

The rag pickers, who mostly live in slums in Kolkata, have also been demanding for their voter identity cards and bank accounts.

In 2013, KMC took an initiative to make Kolkata a vat-free city and introduced compactor stations. This system hinges on garbage directly being unloaded into a bin cart and then into the compactor for automatic compression inside the machines during daytime. In the night, mechanical lifters take away the compactors filled with garbage and drive down to the Dhapa dumping ground.