Contributors to “Swachch Bharat” Are Not Indians.

It’s the truth. We are totally ignorant about littering, garbage dumps and waste segregation and how to maintain cleanliness outside our homes. But there are people who are helping in the birth of new start-ups in the waste-management/recycling industry. Their contribution in waste handling is enormous because they do the segregation work which most of locals consider too low.


This contribution towards “Swachch Bharat”  goes unacknowledged as acknowledging it  will lead to accepting the inability  to stop illegal immigration. I am not into policing but the immigrant problem has been there for long and though on paper they are  fellow Indians but when you take them into confidence they tell you where they actually are from. Anyway giving them a benefit of doubt as most border dwellers have residences on both sides of the border.

These immigrants have come to all major cities of India in thousands including Bangalore. They stay in huts on an empty plot and pay rent to the owner of the plot. (In photo- one such slum of immigrants which is on the boundry of a prohibited defence land) .Mostly they come without their kids to be able to work more and change residence overnight if need arises.


As men can’t get into regular jobs in shops, hotels or security sectors they have taken up the waste management in a big way.  They act as “Kabadiwalas” to collect waste from houses or roadsides. Some work as rickshaw pullers to transport waste. It’s a common site on Bangalore roads where a rickshaw puller will be pulling a huge bag full of plastics. In a recycling plant they hand segregate different types of waste according to its use. They pickup waste lying in the roads and stack in in their slums for selling it of later. ( 3rd photo-  shows one such stack of waste in the slum)

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We now have a segregation process of 2Bin and 1Bag in our city. But that one bag has so much to segregate in it. Plastics, metals, glass, cloth, foils, composites and many more. These workers segregate all that goes in our dry bags sometimes encountering hazardous and sanitary waste as well.

Women work as domestic help in the nearby apartments. They are very good workers, highly efficient, neat and clean. They work for much cheaper wages and they have taken over 80% of the domestic work sector. As they have an Indian Identity card they are easily allowed to work. One good thing about hiring them is that they act as a middle men for their men folk in collecting recyclable waste from the homes they work in. They themselves segregate at source and take away the waste. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts about how I connect to the “Kabadiwalas” through them.

Once in a while they do harm the environment by burning waste/ wires to get metals, polluting the air nearby or by defecating in the open, but their work in keeping the garbage off the streets is of greater impact and should be acknowledged. (In photo- burning of waste by immigrants).

They have brought with them an innovative way of harvesting rainwater. They collect rainwater in plastic sheets  with a barrel in the middle to store the water.

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Though they create lot of problems like overcrowding the cities, running parallel governments,  cutting of trees and providing a source of mob when needed by selfish leaders, they do have their use in our society till  we achieve our dream of a clean India. Till then governing bodies should utilize this cheap manpower with strict monitoring.


A physicist turned green living advocate.

2 thoughts on “Contributors to “Swachch Bharat” Are Not Indians.

  • 22 June, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Part of the problem is civic agencies. In Bangalore, they do not regularly pick garbage from households. Even if we segregate garbage pick-up timings and schedules are very erratic, almost once in 3 days. This causes garbage to rott and ultimately frustrates the people. Last year, ugly indian group have freed-up many places from garbage dumps and even people were supporting them by not throwing garbage outside. However, since from last couple of months, door-to-door garbage collection by civic bodies have virtually stopped and those dump have appeared again !! 🙁

    • 23 June, 2016 at 9:33 am

      True CEagle, agencies are not sincere . I once followed our garbage pickup truck which went and dumped all garbage mixed in a slum area infront of the regional passport office where all cows from the shed came and started eating thin plastic wrapped garbage. In this scenario of insincerity work of these immigrants should be highlighted. Instead of depending on civic agencies we should take care of our garbage ourselves by selling dry stuff to these immigrants and compost the wet waste.


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