If you’re used to being greeted by an army of red-coated coolies when the train pulls into your station, the Kanpur Shatabdi might give you a surprise. As it glides into New Delhi Railway Station (NDRS) on a sunny Saturday noon, it’s a yellow team of waste-pickers that awaits you. Masks, sacks and bin-liners in hand, they wait for the train to come to a stop.
Meet the Safai Sena, or ‘cleanliness army’. Once all the passengers file out of the train, five to six members of the Safai Sena hop into the coach. They get to work quickly, emptying the bins, removing uneaten food, separating wet waste from the dry.
Within minutes they are done with one coach and move to the next: as they shift, they hand out bulging bags of the collected garbage to the crew waiting on the platform with a large trolley. Read More