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Assessment of Socio Economic Condition and Role of Rag Pickers in Municipal Solid Waste Management in Allahabad City (U.P.) India

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Rag pickers play an important role in solid waste management but rag picking is one of the most neglected sectors. The major objective of the study has been to find out the existing socio – economic and health considerations of rag pickers in city of Allahabad. The study also focuses on the prevailing hierarchy in this sector. The survey highlights the issue of hierarchy and explains the reasons of its maintenance. In the work hierarchy denotes the ratio of the involvement of the three major members: male, female and children. The paper is an output of the primary survey conducted in the Allahabad city of U.P. The research is mainly based upon a detailed questionnaire. The survey sample was taken on the selected pocket area within city of Allahabad. With reference to the survey data the study further aims to fulfil the need and highlight the importance of rag pickers. The survey aims to bring forth the unseen part of the story on the front line.
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Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED RESEARCH AND
TECHNOLOGY
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Assessment of Socio Economic Condition and Role of Rag Pickers in
Municipal Solid Waste Management in Allahabad City (U.P.) India
Vijai Krishna1 and Sadhana Chaurasia2
1Research scholar, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya University Chitrakoot Satna, MP
2Associate professor, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya University Chitrakoot Satna, MP
Corresponding author:
Sadhana Chaurasia
sadhanamgcgv@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Rag pickers play an important role in solid waste management but rag picking
is one of the most neglected sectors. The major objective of the study has been to find
out the existing socio economic and health considerations of rag pickers in city of
Allahabad. The study also focuses on the prevailing hierarchy in this sector. The
survey highlights the issue of hierarchy and explains the reasons of its maintenance. In
the work hierarchy denotes the ratio of the involvement of the three major members:
male, female and children. The paper is an output of the primary survey conducted in
the Allahabad city of U.P. The research is mainly based upon a detailed questionnaire.
The survey sample was taken on the selected pocket area within city of Allahabad.
With reference to the survey data the study further aims to fulfil the need and highlight
the importance of rag pickers. The survey aims to bring forth the unseen part of the
story on the front line.
Key words: Ragpickers, Municipal solid waste, Landfill sites, Dumping grounds,
Recycling
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
INTRODUCTION
Solid waste refers to any solid or semi-solid
substances or object which is discarded or
useless or unwanted resulting from human
activities. It is extremely heterogeneous
mass of waste, which may originate from
household, commercial activities, industries
and agricultural activities. Although the
degradation of land resources and problems
related to environment and human health,
uncontrolled open dumping is going on in
developing counties ISWA, UNEP (2002).
Amount of municipal solid waste will
increase significantly in the future because
India is converting into an industrialized
nation in near future Sharma S. and Shah
K.W. (2005); Central Pollution Control
Board (2004) and Shekdar A.V. (1992). The
chief difficulty in arranging the public
services in the urban areas is often the poor
financial conditions of the municipal
corporations Mor S. (2006); Siddiqui T.Z.
(2006); Raje D.V. (2001); Ministry of
Environment and Forests (2000) and Ahsan
N. (1999). Municipal solid waste has many
categories like food waste, rubbish,
institutional waste, commercial waste, street
sweeping waste, construction and industrial
waste etc. Municipal solid waste contains
recyclable wastes like paper, plastic, glass,
metal etc. And toxic substances like paints,
pesticides, medicines etc. and compostable
organic waste like fruit, vegetable and food
waste etc. Jha M.K. (2003); Reddy S. and
Galab S. (2003) and Khan R.R. (1994).
Many industrial countries have adopted the
waste management hierarchy concept for
municipal solid waste management which
includes prevention, minimization, materials
recovery, incineration and landfill Sakai S.
(1996). A difficulty in planning a municipal
solid waste management plan is that
simultaneously tackling the conflicting
objectives which cannot be dealt by
economical qualifications only but the
problem is categorized by an uncertainty of
the estimates of costs and environmental
impacts so many researchers have proposed
multi criteria decision approaches in MSW
management Hokkanen J. and Salminem P.
(1997); Karagiannidis A. and
Moussiopoulus N. (1997); Chang N. and
Wang S. F. (1997) and Chang N and Wang
S.F. (1997). The term rag picker currently
refers to the people who collect rags or
recyclable materials that can be sold for
money. Rag picking entails the sorting,
collecting, and selling of these various waste
materials that can be found at dumpsites,
riverbanks, street corners, or in residential
areas, and consist primary of plastics,
bottles, cardboard, tin, aluminium, iron,
brass and copper. Plastic tin and aluminium
products are heavily sought after while
paper goods rank low on the list. Rag
pickers have recently become part of the
growing population of urban poor. The
average age of a rag picker is economically
active population (age 5 years to 59 years).
Literacy rates of rag pickers are very low,
with majority of them illiterate. Rag pickers
usually come from poor families involved in
non-agricultural, low-paying occupations.
Family size and structure does seem to
directly influence, most of the people are
involved because they have to fulfil the need
of large family. The present survey also
reveals that hierarchy is maintained. The
survey provides details that most of the
population comprises of children and
women. The rag picker has a special role to
play in the segregation of waste. They are
the one of the focal points for the recycling
of waste. They are the person who, in spite
of all the dangers faces, goes on relentlessly
picking through the garbage bin, looking for
waste that can be useful to him. Hospital
waste is often present in the waste which rag
pickers sorted out Srikanth V. (1993). The
risk created by this occupation is greater for
children than for adults World Health
Organization (1988). Researchers revelled
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
that the number of rag pickers is increasing
in the Asian cities Furedy C. (1990). There
is very less research work had been taken
place investigating the health risks involved
in this work on the rag pickers Gunn S.E.
and Ostos Z. (1992); Kungnulskiti N.
(1991); Nath K.J. (1991) and Parasuramalu
B.G. (1993). They sells all the material picks
to the whole sellers and retailers who in turn
sell it to the industry that uses this waste
matter as raw material. The main items of
collection are plastics, paper, bottles, and
cans. Rag pickers are well coordinated in
their method of working. Among
themselves, they have a good understanding
for operating by area. Each group takes
specific items from the bins. It has been
observed that more women and children are
getting involved in the business of rag
picking. This is a matter of concern that,
these children who should be spending their
time in schools either studying or playing
are instead put themselves at risk by
handling waste. While picking through
waste, the rag picker put himself at a great
risk and is always prone to disease as the
waste that he rummages through can be
infected.
MATERIALS AND METHOD
Study Area: Allahabad is one of the most
important districts of U.P. Allahabad is one
of the biggest cities and largest educational
and administrative hub of U.P.
Research design: Research was conducted
by collecting primary data from rag pickers
regarding their problems, lifestyle and
family, earning, health consideration.
Data collection method: The data was
collected using a detailed questionnaire
(prepared in English, administered in Hindi
by the researcher).
Sampling: Area sampling followed by
judgmental sampling to decide the densely
representative population was undertaken.
After deciding on the place, random
sampling for rag pickers is done.
Sample size: The sample size for the survey
is 100. Though no geographic segmentation
is done as garbage collection is more or less
evenly spread, based on the density of rag
pickers and their accessibility areas, some
areas were more approached than others.
RESULTS
1. Age distribution of rag pickers: About
22% of the rag pickers is comprised of
children i.e. age group (0-10 year) which is
one of the great matter of concern, 39% are
of the age group of (10-20 year), 28% are of
the age group of (20- 30 year) and rest 11%
are of >30yrs of age.
2. Gender distribution of male and
female: In the survey, it was found that
higher ratio of male is involved in respect to
lower ratio of female. The percentage of
male is about 53% and that of female is
47%.
Fig.1 Percentage age distribution rag
pickers
Fig.2 Percentage of male/female involved
in rag picking
3. Size of the family: The detailed study of
survey revealed that most of the rag pickers
22
39
28
11
0
20
40
60
0 10 10 20 20 30 > 30
53%
47%
40%
45%
50%
55%
male female
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
have a large family. 62% of the rag pickers
have more than 5 members in the family,
24% have five members in their family, 14%
have 4 members in the family and 0% has 3
members in the family.
4. Educational status: Only 11% of rag
pickers are educated (primary level) and rest
89% are uneducated. The major portion of
educated class comprised mainly of the age
group of (0-10 year).
5. Working period: Survey revealed that a
large no of rag pickers undergoes long
working hrs. 68% were found out for their
trade of about 8 hrs. 21% were found
outside for their job for more than 8hrs and
only 11% was found out for 5hrs
Fig.3 Percentage of individual having
different family size
Fig.4 Percentage of educational status of
rag pickers
6. Amount of waste collected: It was found
in the survey that rag pickers collected a
huge amount of waste in a single day to
meet their needs. 32% individual collects
10- 15 kg. 20% were found to collect more
than 15 kg. 36% individuals collect 5-10 kg.
12% collect 2-5 kg.
7. Type of waste collected: About 93% of
rag pickers collect plastic, 82% gather paper,
56% of individual collect biomedical waste,
48% collect glass and rest 23% collect
rubber.
8. Economic status: In the survey, it was
found that a larger population earns very
low income. About 53% of rag pickers earn
less than Rs.50 per day. 38% of them make
between Rs.50 100 daily and very small
percentage i.e. 9% involve in this trade earn
more than Rs.100 daily.
Fig.5 Percentage of working hours of
individuals.
Fig.6 Percentage of amount of collected
waste
9. Living condition of rag pickers: Major
portion of the rag pickers lives in shanty and
unhealthy areas. About 83% of individuals
live in slum areas. 11% resides at places like
platforms or market corridors. Only 6% of
the rag pickers own a home. This facility is
available only to those who are involved in
this trade from a long time.
0%
14% 24%
62%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
3 4 5 >5
11%
89%
0%
50%
100%
Educated uneducated
11%
68%
21%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
5 8 >8
12%
36% 32%
20%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
2 - 5 Kg 5 - 10 Kg 10 -15 Kg >15 Kg
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
Fig.7 Percentage of individuals picks and
type of waste
Fig.8 Percentage of individual earning in
single day
Fig.9 Percentage of accommodation
facility
Fig.10 Percentage of general health
related problem
10. General health condition: The general
health condition of rag pickers was found
not so satisfactory in the survey. About 93%
of rag pickers made complaint of injury
while picking. 69% of them complained of
diarrhoea, 47% complained of
breathlessness and 78% of pain. A major
new issue which has highlighted in the study
is that rag pickers incurred ill health not only
by pathogen or sharp or hazardous waste but
also by the attack of animals feeding on the
wasteland. About 72% of individual faced
dog bite.
11. Public reaction: About 48% of rag
pickers replied that public is supportive
while 52% revealed that public avoids them.
The negative answer was mostly given by
children and teen agers. They confirmed that
public has a wrong perception that these age
group individuals are involved in anti-social
activities such as mischief and robbery.
Fig.11 Percentage of support/avoid in
public reaction
Fig.12 Percentage getting help from
Government or NGO’s
12. Help from Government and NGO’s:
The study revealed a shocking and terrible
finding. 100% of people complained that
neither government nor any NGO provided
any help or came forward to uplift their
social and economic condition.
82% 93%
37% 23%
56% 48%
0%
50%
100%
53%
38%
9%
0%
20%
40%
60%
<50 Rs 50 - 100 Rs >100 Rs
6%
83%
11%
0%
50%
100%
Own house slum others
78% 93%
47%
83% 69% 72%
0%
50%
100%
48%
52%
45%
50%
55%
Support Avoid
0%
100%
0%
50%
100%
150%
Yes No
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
DISCUSSION
The study from the selected site within
Allahabad city shows that a major portion of
urban slum and poor population is involved
in rag picking. The reason to choose this
trade is that, it provides them easy and quick
source of income. This quick money
generating activities has less legal
obligations and formalities to be dealt with,
so this trade is a quick pick by the urban
poor population. The survey showed that
there is gender hierarchy as well as child
labour involved in this trade. The children
and the female rag pickers were also found
to be involved in this practice. The saddest
part of the story is that the children below
the age group of 10 years are also involved
in this strenuous trade. It is a great matter of
concern that minors below the lawfully
permitted age of work are indulged in the
job. Most of them are enrolled in
government school but are not able to attend
their classes because it hampers their work.
Those children who are involved in this field
are not getting proper education, proper
nutrition and proper shelter. Also they have
to face police harassment and negligence of
people. The study also revealed an active
participation of large number of females in
this sector. Only one age group where
females are lesser involved is in the age
group of 10 -20 years. This age group
comprise of the teen age girls who are
nowadays not much indulge in this
occupation. The radical drop in percentage
of particular gender in this age group is due
to the increased case of teenage female
molestation in the past few years. In order to
maintain the safe guard they are not allowed
to get in the work, instead teenage girls are
made to do housework when the other
members are out for their work. Females are
considered home maker but those who are
involve in this work are out of their home
for more than 8 hours and are not able to
give full attention to their children and
home. One of the most significant results
that have come up in the survey is the
involvement of lower percentage of male
population both in the age group of 20-30
years and above 30 years in the Allahabad
city. After a detailed survey it was found
that major male population of urban poor of
Allahabad city has migrated to other state in
order to feed the need of family. The
individual left behind are either involved in
this work or choose some other informal
way of earning. The survey also brings out a
sad picture of health of these poor
populations. The general health condition
was found bad. A majority of the population
involved in the trade complained of ill
health. One of the typical facts that flashed
in the survey is that the most of the rag
pickers have a large family. One of the
drastic facts is that none of the family of the
surveyed rag pickers has 3 or less than three
members in the family. As the size of family
is big and major male population has
migrated so the females and the children are
most involved in this sector in order to fulfill
the family need. The rag pickers socio-
economic condition was also not found
satisfactory. Rag picking is one of the most
important elements in the cyclic process of
reusing the material by the formal industrial
market economy. Despite this, these
individuals have always been a neglected
and underprivileged section of the society.
Neither the society nor the government is
giving proper attention to this weaker
section. The government has to come up
with an innovative idea and correct policy to
upgrade the situation of this section of the
society. The individuals of the society
should also change their attitude towards
this section and should try to embrace them
in the mainstream to construct a healthy
society.
Krishna and Chaurasia, 2016 1(1): 13-20
Received July 5, 2016; Revised September 19, 2016 Published October 29, 2016
@IJART-2016, All Rights Reserved: www.ijart.info
CONCLUSION
The growth of population, increasing
urbanization, rising standards of living due
to technological innovations have
contributed to an increase both in quantity
and quality of solid waste. This solid waste
is managed by the rag pickers who scavenge
the city’s garbage bins, riversides, streets
and landfill site. Though rag picking is
directly or indirectly involved with the solid
waste management but due to legal
institutional framework and social
awareness of the people, the voices of rag
pickers have been found unheard. Rag
pickers play a major role in keeping our city
clean; if they leave their work even for a
single day the city would look like a garbage
centre. Even having a weak social and
economic status they carry out their work
with great responsibly. The city’s prosperity
depends upon the integration of formal and
informal markets. Rag picking is categorized
into one of the informal jobs adopted by the
poor urban population. Instead of accepting
rag picking and rag pickers as the nuisance
of city environment, we need to accept them
as a part of the society & need to integrate
them with city’s integrity.
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... According to Krishna V. et al. (2016) [8] rag pickers play an important role in solid waste management but rag picking is one of the most neglected sectors. It includes the sorting, collecting, and selling of these various waste materials that can be found at dumpsites, riverbanks, street corners, or in residential areas, and consist primarily of plastics articles, glass bottles, cardboard items, tin materials, aluminium products, iron materials, brass and copper things. ...
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Children at Work – Special Health Risks. A report of the WHO study group
World Health Organization (1988) Children at Work – Special Health Risks. A report of the WHO study group, Geneva.
Sustainable development through integrated municipal solid waste management (MSWM) approach – a case study of Aligarh District
  • T Z Siddiqui
Siddiqui T.Z. (2006) Sustainable development through integrated municipal solid waste management (MSWM) approach – a case study of Aligarh District. Proceedings of national conference of advanced in mechanical engineering (AIME-2006), Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India, 1168–1175.