Read the passage given below and solve the questions based on it.
At the time when the unfortunate incident of the ‘accidental’ exposure to radiation that affected workers and waste collectors in Delhi as they handled radioactive material. Took place, the issue of waste disposal, particularly hazardous waste, made the headlines. The lives of those who live off collecting and sorting waste came into our line of vision. But then the issue disappeared.
Long term policies that ensure that the safety and health of those who do such an essential job—a community of silent environmentalists someone called them are not such a high priority any more. One reason is that the people affected are virtually invisible.
Waste collectors around India work silently. Often late into the night, sorting out mountains of waste, foraging for anything that can be sold. If you walk down some streets of central Mumbai after 11 at night. You will see an army of waste collectors. Men women, children are all hard at work. They work through the night and finally manage to get some sleep on the doorsteps of the shops on those streets. By daylight they become invisible, having stowed their belongings in boxes behind the signs of the shops on whose doorsteps they sleep. These are the people of the night, not noticed by those who inhabit the areas in the day.
What is often not entirely appreciated is that a substantial percentage of waste collectors is women. According to a study. 85 per cent of waste collectors in the city are women, five per cent are children and 10 per cent are men. The majority of them are poor and landless people who came to the city because of drought
in their villages. The age group ranges from 7 to 70 years and 98 per cent of them are illiterate. A survey of 60.000 waste collectors found a similar proportion.
60 per cent women, 20 per cent men and 20 per cent children. Studies have revealed that 90 per cent of the women waste pickers are primary bread-winners, often widowed or deserted. It is interesting how the gender division of labour plays out
even in the business of waste. While women, and children, do the more hazardous job of sorting and separating the waste, the men deal with the wholesalers and factories. As a result it is the women who are exposed to hazardous waste none of them wear any kind of protective gear and also face the physical problems of constantly bending and carrying head loads of the waste. Look at any group of waste collectors and you will spot the bent old women who have been performing this function for decades.
In the slum-city of Mumbai, waste collectors experience the most acute degree of homelessness. While poor people in other kinds of jobs somehow manage to find some shelter in a slum, irrespective of whether it is legal or illegal, waste collectors sleep next to the garbage they have sorted. This is their wealth something they have to protect after they have collected and sorted it until they can monetize it. Hence, near many garbage dumps, even in the better off localities of cities like Mumbai, you see families of waste pickers asleep in the morning. And most often you see only women and children.
Why bring up waste collectors at a time when the main environmental issues being debated are the larger issues of global warming. Or environmental disasters such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? This is because one cannot speak of the environment without considering its impact on the lives of people. We have hundreds of small scale and continuing environmental disasters taking place all around us. But we overlook them so long as they do not impact our lives or our lifestyles. Millions of waste pacers in India. Who play a crucial, role in dealing with the perennial environmental crisis of waste. Risk their lives and their health every single day. This is an ongoing environmental issue that requires as much attention from ordinary people, the media and policy makers as the larger macro issues.
Why are long term policies favouring waste collectors not high priority?