Waste pick­ers will now get prov­i­dent funds in the Dhapa land­fill in Kolkata

DHRUBAJYOTI GHOSH speaks to Down To Earth

Down to Earth - - REVIEW -

In your book, you've talked about suc­cess­ful schemes like free eggs in ex­change of waste to pro­mote waste man­age­ment. Are there any other suc­cess­ful schemes in the world?

I have come across only one ex­am­ple in Bangkok. Noth­ing on the same lines has hap­pened in In­dia. We keep talk­ing about the work that waste pick­ers do, but we aren't ready to im­prove their work­ing con­di­tions. Af­ter the death of a waste picker, Kalyani Mon­dal, I sent a let­ter to the chief min­is­ter of West Ben­gal ask­ing for prov­i­dent fund sup­port for these peo­ple. Fi­nally three months ago, the gov­ern­ment gave the or­der. So for the first time in our coun­try, waste pick­ers will get prov­i­dent funds.

Could you elab­o­rate on the process of grow­ing food on garbage at the land­fill site?

Root veg­eta­bles should be avoided. The ma­jor crops grown at the Dhapa land­fill are cau­li­flower and corn. Both have leaves, where the tox­ins get stored.

Who is eat­ing these veg­eta­bles? Who are the buy­ers?

The peo­ple of Kolkata. In 1986; it took me nine months to cal­cu­late the amount of veg­eta­bles grown here. It is 147 tonnes per day. Since then a num­ber of re­search stud­ies have been done on the land­fill, but not one has tried to cal­cu­late the money these veg­eta­bles fetch.

Why isn't food grown on any other land­fills?

It is not as sim­ple as throw­ing seeds on the ground. It is a tech­nol­ogy of grow­ing food. First, you have to con­vert the waste into ma­nure. The com­post­ing method in itself is a tech­nol­ogy, but one can­not just grow veg­eta­bles on garbage. A tech­nol­ogy is re­quired.

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