A sector that wants space

Published: Monday 15 November 2004

-- Space for Waste: Planning for the Informal Recycling Sector by Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group New Delhi 2004

Finally, a publication that goes beyond the usual rhetoric that is the stock-in-trade of works on waste picking, and closely looks at the planning needs for this informal sector. Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group's Space for Waste examines the inter-relationship between municipalities, planners, residents and waste pickers. The solution offered is simple: plan for those who manage waste -- kabadiwala s and thiawala s (waste-pickers). Unfortunately, our planners have no place for such simple solutions. Delhi's present Master Plan -- or as a matter of fact, master plans anywhere in the country -- does not recognise the informal sector's contribution in waste management. Hence, recycling does not have legal sanction and waste pickers are often at the receiving end of police and municipal high-handedness.

Garbage dumps have no space for waste pickers to segregate waste and godowns of kabadiwala s are run in the most hazardous manner. These dealers end up paying a monthly rent anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 8,000. That's a huge pity, for these dealers save our municipalities about Rs 2 lakh per day. And this potential can increase a lot if waste-picking receives legal sanction. The study suggests some norms for this (see table: For a better deal ). The book is timely because Delhi's Master Plan 2020 is under preparation and this report "offers policy-makers both a rationale and a means by which needs of the informal sector can be incorporated in policy-making".

For a better deal
Norms for various sectors in informal waste processing
Category Norm per 100,000
Waste pickers 215 Each waste picker handles 60 kg waste per day and requires 60 square feet (sq ft) space near the dump for segregation
Other workers* 90 Each worker requires 125 sq ft of space near the kabadi godown for  segregation as well as road space for transportation
Small kabadia 6 3000 sq ft has to be allocated in a shopping centre to each small  kabadi for segregation and storage of about 1500 kg of waste, and shelter for workers
Thiawalas** 33 Located near markets and shopping centres as each thiawala collects  waste from about 150 shops
Big kabadis 1.5 About 60,000 sq ft space required for roughly 60,000 kg of weekly  waste
Source: *These workers are hired by small kabadis **They are are a critical connection, working in in commercial complexes where aggregate waste is delivered to them.

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