This is a collaborative website to listen to the voice of waste pickers in India.
Learn more about the project.
Give us your email and we’ll keep you updated of new episodes!
Radio Active Daastan – E -Nayandahalli Song
This is the title track of the series Daastan – E-Nayandahalli – Stories from the Recycling Hub of Bangalore.
The story of waste, the people of waste and Nayandahalli as an urban waste ecosystem
The title track created by Jeevan Claude.
Episode 00: Voices of waste workers
Radio show in English, Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ) and Hindi/Urdu (हिन्दुस्तानी, ہندوستانی).
Kasa Shramika Parisara Rakshka, which means waste pickers are the saviours of the environment in English, is a radio series produced by the waste workers of Bangalore since 26th January 2012.
Episode 01: Zarina
“Nayandahalli, 25 years back was jungle. There was no electricity, water, or roads. On a vacant plot, the landlord gave us permission, and we put up a hut, as my husband found a job as a watchman. Originally from Mulbagal, Kolar, after marriage I moved to Mandya. Following a family dispute, my husband and I moved to Bangalore. Living here, my thoughts were always on my children’s future, so I worked as an incense stick maker, but the money was hardly anything. And then tragedy stuck… somebody told us, “Give me your child and I will educate her”, but my heart was not at it. I went back to Mandya. My husband and one of our children came back to Bangalore and our kid got lost. Though we found her, I began questioning myself, for how long should I be dependent, and why should I give my child away to someone else. That was when I decided that I had to look for work and I joined the godown and started my career as a waste-sorter. If I worked, I would get money, if I did not I would not get any. In my work, from glass pieces, to needles everything pricks. I often get hurt. There is no social security, if we fall sick. As long as you’re healthy, you have work. Worked there for 20 years, and then we decided that we need to move up the ladder and start a godown. But now we have been asked to move out, a notice has been issued by the government. And that is the story of my life…”- Zarina
Episode 02: Anslem Rosario
In Conversation with Anslem Rosario
Anslem Rosario completed his graduation studies from St. Joseph College affiliated to Bangalore University in the early 70’s and enrolled for a certificate program in hotel management. After several years in the hotel industry, Anslem left to seek true meaning of spirituality and was initiated in the Transcendental Meditation technique(TM) in seventies by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of TM movement. After completion of the course, he graduated as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and worked as a full timer and joined various campaigns of TM movement in Madya Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and Goa and during that time taught more than 5000 people in TM. He also completed an Advanced Training Course at Shankaracharya Nagar, Rishikesh, before returning to Bangalore.
In the early 1980s, he worked as development officer for the All India Catholic Union in Karnataka and Goa, and moved on to work on urban poor issues. Observing the most runaway or abandoned street children took to waste-picking as a means to survive, he founded the Ragpickers Education and Development Scheme in 1985. The scheme had several components including a night shelter, which was constructed at Scared Hearts Church, also included washing facilities, food and access to basic medical care; a Fair Price Shop that respected the children’s need economic independence and purchased the materials collected by the children at market rate. This was followed with a new Street Contact Education Programs to reach out to children involved in waste-picking. In 1987, he moved to set-up Mythri Sarva Seva Samithi, as he wanted a secular institution. In 1989, through the organization he started collecting waste directly from homes, to ensure that children are free to study in the mornings. Separate collection of dry and wet waste ensured. The program also sought to legitimize informal waste workers contribution and pioneered the integration of waste-pickers in the city’s solid Waste Management. He is the recipient of “Ashoka Fellowship” ( 1989) from Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Arlington, Virgina, USA .He received the “Public Relations Award 1993 for Environment” for his significant contribution to the creation of cleaner urban habitat by Public Relation Society of India, Bangalore Chapter. He also received the “Environment Award for 1995”, by the Karnataka Pollution Control Board, Government of Karnataka.
In an interview to Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, Anslem talks about waste and waste management, his personal experiences on decentralization of waste, the markets for waste and the need for integration of waste-pickers.
Episode 03: Shashikala
“When I first came here, Nayandahalli was a forest, there were no bus facilities. I came to Bengaluru from Chennai, in 1993 after my marriage and used to live with my in laws in Magadi Road. My husband and I later moved out. My husband used to collect and sort gunny bags, which he later sold to shops. The work was very scarce, and on a friend’s suggestion we moved to Nayandahlli. We found a small house for ourselves which was barely enough for us and our three children, but somehow we managed to scrape by. I have one daughter and two sons. After coming here, my husband decided to move into the plastic collection business.
Initially my husband collected plastic material and sorted it at home, before selling it to the scrap dealer and later we rented a small godown, with the help of his friend. In those days for 1kg plastic we got about 25 paise. For some material we got between 10 paise to 1 rupee.
The people living nearby objected to setting up the godown, but we struggled hard and set up the shop. He goes around to all the small shops and factories, collects all the plastic waste, brings it back, breaks it down into smaller pieces , and then sorts it into different bags. These bags go to other factories which use these recycled plastic to create their products. I also try to help my husband whenever I can by breaking the plastic and sorting it out. We did not have many factories for processing these plastics then. The godown was our source of livelihood, it helped us educate our children, and in addition we could babysit our children while working. The godown business is seasonal, for six months there is steady income, for the next six month we just have stock and wait for the right prices.
Back then, there was hardly anything in Nayandahalli. We had to walk a long distance to buy supplies for the house, and since the area was not that safe, I took my children to school, dropped them off and later picked them up in the evenings. There were hardly any buses, and the bus stop itself was a long walk. If and when the buses came, it was infrequent and full. If we fall sick or need a hospital for a delivery, there was only the Government hospital available. For poor people like us, who have no money to afford better healthcare, this was our only hope and we had to make do with it. Now, there are buses running and groceries are easier to obtain. But again, our lives are at a turning point.
The residential area has enveloped our godown and neighbours are creating problem. The Government’s new rule on relocating godowns has hit poor people like us very badly. We, who have no other means of livelihood and know no other job, have no idea what the future holds for us. We might have start all over again…”
Transcribed by Pinky Chandran & Ashwini Raj
Audio interview edited by Usha
What is Voices of Waste Pickers
Contact us if you want to join the project. We are open to collaborations and ideas.