Photography

Gallery: A Life in Trash for India’s Dalit Recyclers

Photographer Shome Basu captures life for the recyclers who work at the Ghazipur landfill.

Ghazipur dumpyard is New Delhi & its National Capital Terrotories largest dumpyard with huge tonnage of excreatory items and hazarous goods dumped. Hundreds of people among them lots of children make their living out of the items dumped at Ghazipur. It borders the NCR city of Ghaziabad with Delhi. Trucks loaded with scanvages come from neibouriging cities of Haryana, Ghaziabad, Noida & city of Delhi. Scavangers of all kinds live here by selling recycle items and earn around $4 a day ie 200 INR. Life expectency is very low due to mix with hazarous and polluting substances. Most of the people working here are from the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal & neibourighing country of Bangladesh. Around three thousand people directly and indirectly depend on the living from this dumpyard. Photo by Shome Basu 04.02.2012. New Delhi.

Each day, millions across India earn a living by working with trash.

These millions include waste pickers, itinerant buyers, small and large waste traders, and workers in godowns and re-processors.

Their work includes picking, segregating, cleaning, dismantling, transporting and trading in waste.

Together they constitute India’s primary recycling system. They keep the country’s environment much cleaner than it would otherwise be.


But the work of the recyclers themselves is far from “green,” and very far from being secure.

While they offer invaluable services to the city, recyclers have few rights and operate in uncertain and poor working conditions.

Every day, they are exposed to deadly poisons, forced to pay bribes simply to do their jobs, harassed and violated of their basic rights.

The Ghazipur dump yard is New Delhi’s largest, with a huge tonnage of waste and hazardous goods dumped here each day.

Around three thousand people directly and indirectly depend on this dump yard for their living. Most of the people that work here are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and also Bangladesh.

The landfill borders the NCR city of Ghaziabad. Trucks loaded with waste come from Delhi, Ghaziabad, Noida and the neighbouring cities of Haryana.

Ghazipur NCR waste dumpyard Images by Shome Basu20120203_0045

Scavengers of all kinds live here. They earn around 200 rupees a day, or 4 dollars, by selling recyclable items that they find.

Life expectancy for these scavengers is very low because of continuous contact with hazardous substances.

Not only adults work here, but hundreds of children too.

Animals forage for survival here as well, and like their human counterparts, suffer from severe ill health as a result.