Give back our waste: what the Okhla waste-to-energy plant has done to local wastepickers

Waste-to-Energy (WtE), the process of creating energy from waste, has gained broad appeal domestically and internationally with programs such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) providing funding for many WtE projects across the world. In India alone, 31 such facilities are expected to be funded, even as their technological appropriateness remains questionable. On the other hand, in countries such as India, a large number of people depend on collecting, segregating and recycling solid wastes to maintain their livelihoods and provide a crucial environmental and public health service to the city. The Okhla landfill is one such place that used to provide a means of livelihood to over 450 adults in the surrounding neighbourhoods, of which only 150 remain at the time of the publication of this report. To this end, this report summarizes the results of a socio-economic impacts assessment survey of waste pickers directly and indirectly linked to the Okhla landfill informal waste economy, nine months after the WtE plant began operations.

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