Jahangirpuri, which lies in north-west Delhi has a large slum cluster comprising of rag-picking families, mostly Bengali Muslims migrated from eastern part of India particularly from Bengal, Bihar and adjoining areas of Bangladesh border. Jahangirpuri has a dense population of more than 5 lakhs and it is basically a resettlement colony divided into 12 blocks. The problem of rag picking is more prevalent in Blocks such as C & CD Park, EE (E Extn), G, H, K and I blocks although, we are covering 12 blocks in Jahangirpuri. The other blocks are A block & A-Block DDA Flats, B D, E, F, and, J blocks. The total population of rag picking children and families would be about 20%. Approximately, there are above 5000 households residing in these jhuggis and engaged in this enchanting trade of pick and sale of rags. Hindus comprise of about 30% of the total rag picking population and the rest are Muslims. The issues prevailing in the colony are unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, poor health and sanitation, domestic violence, child labour, female foeticide, alcoholism, drug abuse etc.
Rag-picking as such is highly rampant in Jahangirpuri. In every household at least one parent and one or more children go out for rag-picking on dawn of each day. It is indeed a hazardous job. The children as well as parents are prone to various diseases like tuberculosis, scabies (skin disease) and asthma etc. They move about in shabby and filthy attire and often get injured by glass pieces, tin, iron rods etc. Besides, they get bitten by mosquitoes and other insects and they frequently fall ill. Some of them are suspected to be HIV/AIDS patients but unaware of the disease.
Chetanalaya has started its systematic intervention (5 Phases) for the development of rag-picking community since 2001. Over the years the area has been benefitted in all the aspects and helped the area to get visibility which has created a boon in disguise by having a metro station connectivity in this slum area. Since 2012 Chetanalaya has entered the Phase 5 of its intervention which focuses on sustenance of the rag picking community by involving them in the work of setting up a RECYCLING UNIT. Chetanalaya is working in six blocks by way of running a lot of educational and other programs. The rag-pickers’ education programme is meant for social, educational and economic development of the rag-picking community. Children’s parliament ensures participation of children in decision-making process. Hundreds of youth every year are beneficiaries of vocational skills training and youth development. Thousands of women are economically and socially empowered through self help groups. Various stakeholders acknowledge rag-pickers development project as a model project and every year hundreds of students from various premier social institutes and social workers from within the country and abroad make exposure visit to this place to see the successful combination of advocacy and service delivery in the project interventions.