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They selflessly handle the dirty job

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unsung heroes: ‘City beautifiers’ segregating plastic from bio-degradable wastes for recycling.
unsung heroes: ‘City beautifiers’ segregating plastic from bio-degradable wastes for recycling.

Despite minimal returns, ‘city beautifiers’ meticulously segregate and collect plastic for recycling

Around 20,000 city beautifiers scouring garbage dumps for recyclable items

Some are even beaten up by locals, who mistake them for being thieves

HYDERABAD: Theirs is a thankless job! Quiet unintentionally, however, their families have developed and sort of institutionalised a practical and effective way to ‘recycle’ tonnes of polythene waste generated in the capital. A fact well acknowledged by GHMC and hundreds of wholesale scrap dealers in twin cities. The process may be medieval, but it still works.

To improve their life and to give them a sense of pride in what they do, GHMC gave them a moniker — ‘City Beautifiers’. Nearly 7,000 city beautifiers and their families were given rickshaws, training and education on garbage collection. Since then, however, things have not improved much.

Life, however, is rough for a city beautifier. Despite, small returns, they meticulously collect polythene and plastic and send it to the recycling units at Musheerabad, Bahadurpura, Mallapur, Sivarampally, Karwan, Feelkhana and Bholakpur. Some are even beaten up by local residents, who mistake them for being thieves.

“We sleep near garbage dumps to prevent others from encroaching. My son and wife work with me. Educating our children and maintaining health is impossible,” says Veerulu, who works near Mallapur Modi Estates apartment complex.

By unofficial counts, roughly there are 20,000 city beautifiers in the twin cities, who work night and day scouring garbage dumps for plastic and other recyclable items. They segregate biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable ones and supply polythene and plastic to the recycling units in city outskirts. On an average, the income of a city beautifier hovers between Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 12,000.

Collecting polythene bags is not a fetching job at all. “A kg of polythene only fetches Rs. 4 or 5,” explains a scrap dealer from Musheerabad, Samad Saqlain.

Despite efforts to help, families of city beautifiers struggle in most aspects of life. They don’t have any association that can lobby for their rights. Authorities don’t even have a policy to help members of their ilk. “Educating them and making them aware of their basic rights is a major challenge,” agrees GHMC Chief Medical Officer and Health (CMOH) Dr. M. Jaya Ram.


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