Delhi's Forgotten Heroes: Toiling in the Trash for a City That Doesn't Look Back

Delhi's Forgotten Heroes: Toiling in the Trash for a City That Doesn't Look Back

Written by Watchdoq Newsportal. May 30, 2024

While Delhi swelters under the summer sun, many residents hold their breath, dreading the acrid smoke and towering infernos that erupt from the city's overflowing landfills. Yet, amidst the disgust and fear, a group of unsung heroes labor tirelessly, hidden beneath the stench of waste: the landfill workers.

Suresh Yadav, a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh, trudges through Bhalswa landfill, his face etched with exhaustion. "Does anyone even care if I live or die?" he mutters, his voice heavy with despair. Like Suresh, hundreds of men, many migrants from other states like Gujarat and Rajasthan, toil for over 12 hours daily at Delhi's overflowing landfills – Bhalswa, Okhla, and Ghazipur. Their job? To tame the ever-growing mountains of trash, a thankless task that shields the city from its own waste woes.

Imagine working under a relentless sun that beats down with the fury of a furnace. The air, thick with the stench of decomposing waste, hangs heavy, stealing every breath. This is the reality for Anisur, another landfill worker at Bhalswa. "Standing on those trommel machines all day," he says, referring to the rotary screens used for sorting waste, "feels like being trapped in a suffocating chamber that slowly squeezes the life out of you."

The scorching heat isn't the only enemy. Mohammed Jaseem, a native of Bihar working at Ghazipur landfill, sighs, "These long hours in the heat feel like a slow death. By the time I reach home in Mandawali, I feel like I've escaped a living hell." His colleague, Lal Singh, a recent addition to the team, finds solace in the shade offered by his truck during breaks. "Even ten days in this heat is unbearable," he says, wiping sweat from his brow, "I can't even keep up with the water I need to drink."

These men face constant health risks. The toxic fumes and dust swirling around them are a constant threat, silently damaging their lungs. The heavy machinery they operate poses a constant risk of injuries. Yet, they work on, their bodies withering under the relentless sun, because if they didn't, the city would drown in its own waste. These towering garbage mountains aren't just eyesores; they're breeding grounds for disease and environmental hazards.

Delhi's forgotten heroes deserve more than just a fleeting moment of acknowledgement. The next time you wrinkle your nose at the stench or hold your breath fearing another landfill fire, spare a thought for the men who shield you from its consequences. They deserve better working conditions, healthcare access, and most importantly, recognition for the vital role they play in keeping the city afloat.
source: TOI