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.
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.