Mary and Gopi are Dry Waste Collection Center (DWCC) operators for Ward no. 165 in Banashankari. The DWCC was the only source of income for both of them and the ten persons who had been working with them for over 3 years. A little over two months ago, the operators were forced to shut the centre down to make way for a new project by BBMP.
Mary and Gopi had to face consistent roadblocks after starting the DWCC three years ago. They had to deal with burglary, people setting the segregated waste on fire, and more. Although they kept the DWCC functioning efficiently, they were always accused of inefficiency. Officials had been planning to demolish the center even three years ago, but after looking at the people working there, the notice was withheld.
Through the center, over 30 tonnes of waste were being segregated, sorted and transported. The couple had been under intense pressure for a long time before the center was forced to shut down. Right when they had managed to convince the officials that they were indeed doing a good job, they received the evacuation notice. Nonetheless, they kept the center going for the next six months. It was during the elections that they received another notice asking them to evacuate the center in two days, or else, everything inside the center will go down with the demolition. Mary tried to get in touch with the officials and when nothing worked out, she got in touch with Vishwanathan from the NGO Hasirudala. When Vishwanathan spoke to the officials, the couple were given one week’s window to evacuate the center. Despite the residents being in support of Mary and Gopi, they had no choice but to shut the center down. If it weren’t for her husband’s ill health, Mary believes that she would have done a better job at dealing with the situation she had found herself in.
With the center gone, the couple and the workers have had no source of income. Mary has been mulling about working with scrap dealers so that some income can come in.
Mary and Gopi believe that waste collectors are the ones who are playing a key role in keeping the country clean. Hence, none of them should be discouraged the way they were. If they are working then they should not have to face such hindrances and have their only source of income snatched from them. Instead, they should be provided with effective alternatives. Mary and Gopi are hoping to find a new center in the next few months and are further hoping that they will not have to deal with such problems again.
Written by Shivani R
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