Solid Waste Management (SWM) is one of the key challenges facing Indian cities including Chennai, having important environmental, public health and livelihoods implications.
The Corporation of Chennai (CoC) devotes a sizable proportion of it’s resources, time and labour to SWM. In spite of this, hundreds of tons of waste go uncollected daily, with slums and low income settlements in particular finding themselves chronically under-served. Furthermore, the ‘garbage problem’ is usually framed only as a public health or aesthetic problem with the livelihood aspect scarcely acknowledged.
Our work centres on research and promotion of sustainable and inclusive solid waste management in Chennai. It is aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and understanding about waste, it’s management and the actors involved through both qualitative and quantitative research. Our primary focus at this time is the role and contribution of ‘waste-pickers’ or informal waste workers (popularly known as ‘rag pickers’) in the city’s waste scenario.
This work is done by CAG as part of the Initiative on Waste, Informal Workers and Chennai’s Future, that was formed in 2013 by Transparent Chennai along with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Madras Institute of Development Studies. The local CBOs that are part of this Initiative include Pennurimai Iyakkam, Unorganised Workers’ Federation, Thozhamai, Arunodhaya, Real Charitable Trust and Construction Worker’s Union.