GUWAHATI, March 11 � The dumping ground of municipal solid waste in Guwahati � still awaiting a scientific waste disposal process � is gradually becoming a favourite resort of rag-pickers, who prefer living amidst the filth day and night to earn handsomely.
The colony of rag-pickers mushrooming in the locality finds it a lucrative business to sell the recyclable polythene packs, collected zealously by one and all of the family throughout the month for around Rs 3,000 to 4,500, a sum big enough to keep them glued to the filthiest place in the city.
At least 40 families settled in the place are engaged in this work, where the contribution of a 5 to 6-year old is equal to that of an adult of the family.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has entrusted the work of scientific garbage disposal and processing to the Guwahati Waste Management Company Private Limited, which collects and dumps the garbage in Boragaon.
�Though the company is under an obligation to segregate the municipal waste scientifically, the absence of such a mechanism till date has allowed the rag-pickers to fall upon the waste and do the segregation on their own,� a member of the Brindaban Nagar Unnayan Samity, the local citizens� committee said.
With three sons, a daughter-in-law and her new-born granddaughter, Zahira Begum and her husband settled in the area one-and-a-half years back from Barpeta. �When I came, there were fewer families in the area. But gradually, it developed into a colony of people coming from different places like Nagaon, Sarbhog, Karimganj, etc., and the number is increasing with passing time,� she said.
�Most of us here wait for the trucks of garbage to arrive and pick whatever recyclable and salable material is available as soon as the trucks are unloaded. While iron and other valuable scraps go to the hands of the luckiest few, polythene packets are in plenty, out of which we choose the cleaner ones,� Mazibul, a 20-year old said.
�Shafikul, an agent of several kabari (dumps) buys back the heaps of polythene from us, for which we get around Rs 3,500 to 4,500. Other materials are sold separately as per their value,� he said.
Other than getting exposed to serious health hazards with their small children, these people scatter the garbage in locality, creating problem for other local people.
�The process of segregation is a complex issue, which cannot take place without the plant, which would be inaugurated in April this year. After that, the whole process would be regulated,� official sources from the GMC said.