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Ragpickers make passengers vow not to litter railway stations (April)

   With their hands and clothes slightly soiled but faces brimming with confidence, ragpickers on Tuesday approached passengers on platform no 16 of New Delhi railway station and requested them to use bins and not litter the place in a campaign to mark Earth Day. Members of Safai Sena-a network of ragpickers dressed in green-worked in co-ordination with another NGO, Chintan, and organized the event which saw participation of schoolchildren, teachers, theatre artists and railway officials. The group made passengers sign a pledge to use dustbins and not throw waste on tracks or platforms. Amitesh, who was travelling to Bhopal with his wife, signed the pledge. "I really liked the initiative. I appreciate the spirit of these people.


My wife keeps me on my toes when it comes to cleanliness," the Dwarka resident said. Around 100 workers of Safai Sena work round the clock in three shifts at four railway stations-New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Old Delhi and Anand Vihar. Waste is collected from all the trains at these stations. "We are working with Safai Sena and railways on platforms to promote awareness about cleanliness. Apart from this, our aim is also to provide jobs to ragpickers so that they can lead a life of dignity," Chitra Mukherjee of Chintan said. The garbage is segregated and taken to material recovery facilities (MRF) for recycling. The NGO has three MRFs in NCR at New Delhi railway station, Tughlakabad and Bhopura in Ghaziabad. Over 4.5 tonnes of waste is collected from four railway stations everyday to be segregated and recycled in these MRFs.


At New Delhi station, about 2,000kg waste is generated daily. Meenakshi, who works with Safai Sena and participated in the campaign, said, "I came here from Bhopura MRF to support my fellow workers. If people follow the same etiquette on railway platforms as they do in their homes the goal for which we are working so hard will be achieved." The nukkad natak, by artistes from a theatre academy, set the mood with comic representations of how people litter the environment with little thought and no consideration, performed to the beat of drums. It brought smiles on the faces of passengers. The Railways also renewed Chintan's contract for waste management being done at the railway station for the past four years. They also inaugurated a new composting unit at the station which is going to recycle organic waste-like fruits and other food products generated at the platforms and trains.


 Times of India, New Delhi, April 23, 2014