Rag Pickers To Be Recognised With National Award

03/07/2015 7:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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CHANDAN KHANNA via Getty Images
An Indian rag picker carries a sack of sorted recyclable materials at the Ghazipur landfill site in the east of New Delhi on August 19, 2014. The population of New Delhi, which is predicted to reach close to 21 million by the year 2015, generates 8,000 tons of garbage per day. The trash is not separated between organic and inorganic materials - everything from leftover food to batteries and beverage cans goes into Indian bins - hurting efficiency and raising toxic emissions. AFP PHOTO/Chandan Khanna (Photo credit should read Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Now, rag pickers' services will be recognised by the government which has decided to give national award for their contribution to keep India clean.

"There are millions of rag pickers in the country. This informal sector has saved the country. They are doing a good job and I have decided to recognise their efforts. We will grant national award," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at an event on waste management here.

The national award, with a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh, will be given to three best rag pickers and three associations involved in innovation of best practices, he added.

Stating that rag pickers are helping to some extent in handling waste, the Minister pitched for setting up of a credible agency like Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that can guide municipal bodies to take measures to address waste management in a scientific way.

"At present, agencies that handle solid waste are working on contractual basis and this has failed miserably. Handling waste cannot always be a profitable business. We have suggested that the Urban Ministry build a credible agency like DMRC that can give scientific guidance," he said.

The Minister also mentioned that there are adequate funds for waste management. "What is lacking is scientific guidance to handle different kinds of waste," he said.

Expressing concern over the large quantity of untreated waste and sewage in the country, Javadekar said that current rules have been revised to ensure every village of over 5,000 population has a waste treatment plant.

The country generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually. "This is expected to increase to 165 million tonnes by 2030 and 450 million tonnes by 2050," he said adding that the worrying fact is that 68 per cent of waste and sewage is not treated in the country at present.

He said the new draft norms on waste management, which aim to put in place a strong mechanism to address concerns related to different kinds of waste, would be implemented from August-end after seeking public comments.

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