Hyderabad: In 2012, three women rag pickers went missing at the Jawaharnagar dump yard. In 2011, a boy from Alwal got lost at the same site.
Scavengers usually get to the top of the heap and slide down where there are high chances of being buried under the garbage.
Not even gloves are provided, when a good percentage of segregation is done by them. The state government, which is not planning to scrap Ramky, is also considering involving scavengers to segregate waste at the source.
With no system to segregate the solid waste, the rag pickers numbering around 350 to 500 do their bit for the environment.
They walk all day in the 340-acre dump yard sifting through the sludge and waste, for milk packs, plastic bottles, metal caps, zippers, cartons and glass bottles.
According to GHMC officials at the site, the rag pickers collect close to 60 per cent of plastic and metal from various points in the city.
Rag pickers dip their hands in poisonous chemicals for long hours. They are also exposed to fumes of highly concentrated acid. Safety gear such as gloves, face masks and ventilation fans are virtually unheard of and rag pickers, many of them children often have little idea of what they are handling.
A city based study in 2014 revealed that scavengers have high occupational health risks including risk from contact with human faecal matter, paper that may have become saturated with toxic materials, bottles with chemical residues, metal containers with residue pesticide and solvents, needles and bandages from hospitals etc.
The most commonly experienced diseases among waste pickers are Tuberculosis, Bronchitis, Asthma, Pneumonia, Dysentery, Parasites and Malnutrition.