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Students of Carmel Convent School talking to a rag-picker Satbir at Dumping Ground iii during environmental awareness and conservation drive in Chandigarh on April 23, 2015
Students of Carmel Convent School talking to a rag-picker Satbir at Dumping Ground iii during environmental awareness and conservation drive in Chandigarh on April 23, 2015

Chandigarh, April 23, 2015 (News Team): As part of environmental awareness and conservation drive launched by Yuvsatta and Department of Environment, Chandigarh Administration on World Earth Day. Today 50 girls of Carmel Convent School, Sector 9 participated in a ‘Garbage Run’, in which to make them understand issues of waste management and garbage generation they were taken to meet door to door waste collectors, rag-pickers, scrap dealers and to see the dumping ground.

Students started their journey by meeting rag-pickers Ashok and Vinod who daily collect garbage from household of Sector 41A and they learned how scouring through heaps of waste, these rag-pickers spends hours segregating waste with bare hands before disposing it off. And one family unit in Chandigarh, the city with the highest per capita income in India pays not more than a Rs 1 or 2 a day for disposing of its refuse.

Pramod Sharma, Coordinator of Yuvsatta said, “working amidst foul smell, getting exposed to chemicals and hazardous substances, these rag-pickers often suffer from life threatening diseases and there is an urgent need to streamline this waste collection system with proper gears like masks, uniforms, gloves, medical assistance, health insurance and looking after their well-being. There are so many issues that bring complexity that it’s difficult to find out where to start. India needs a proper programme for waste management, we need to ask our companies what their own recycling methods and plans are. Why can’t like west consumers here can give back the worn out products to companies and have them recycle instead of throwing stuff outside to rot and for the rag pickers to struggle with. Every small step here is a step forward.”

Later Yuvsatta volunteer took students to see the dumping ground at Dadumajra, where the daily generation of 500 tonnes of waste in Chandigarh finds its home and plays havoc not only with environment, soil, underground water but also with health of thousands of people living around. Where listening to the plight of rag-pickers working at the site, Class IX students like Simrat, Ritika, Drishti, Gurleen, Kriti and Surat formed a group and decided that they’ll run a campaign in their School to collect funds and arrange gloves, shoes, soaps, first-aid kits, water campers for the women and men working at the dumping ground. They also intend to write letters to Municipal Corporation and Chandigarh Administration officials to take care of needs of rag-pickers who play the real role of environmentalists by collecting waste for recycling and by stopping it from going to dumping ground.

This visit ended with meeting of students with scrap-dealers in Dhanas area and a quiz on Waste Management in which winners were presented with books by Mahatma Gandhi.

Appreciating the initiative of Garbage Run, Ritu Yadav the Eco-club teacher in-charge of the School said that it was a learning experience for all, now students could empathize with the ‘Rehriwalla’s’ who collect our waste and they now will be more aware of hazards of waste generation.

Sharing his concerns the Director, Department of Environment Santosh Kumar said that practicing the gandhian 4 R’s of Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Replenish, as individuals we need to make sure that we minimize our waste and use color-coded waste bins, green for bio-degradable, white for recyclable wastes and black for other wastes. We should prohibit littering on the street. Disposing waste mindfully is not a wasteful business.

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