mandag 18. oktober 2021

The nightmare of India's tallest rubbish mountain

The "mountains of garbage" dotting India's cities will soon be replaced with waste treatment plants, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised earlier this month. Author Saumya Roy reports from the country's oldest and tallest mountain of rubbish - some 18 storeys high - in the western coastal city of Mumbai.

Every morning, Farha Shaikh stands on top of a more-than-a-century-old rubbish mountain in Mumbai, waiting for garbage trucks to make their way up. The 19-year-old waste picker has been scavenging through these heaps in the Deonar suburb for as long as she can remember. From the gloopy trash, she usually picks up plastic bottles, glass and wire to sell in the city's thriving waste markets. But most of all she looks out for broken mobile phones.

Every few weeks, Farha finds a "dead" mobile phone in the trash. She digs into her meagre savings and gets it repaired. Once it flickers to life, she spends her evenings watching films, playing video games, texting and calling friends. When the phone stops working again days or weeks later, Farha's connection with the world outside snaps again. She is back to working long days, collecting the remains of the city to resell - and looking for another phone to restore.