Delhi’s 300,000 ragpickers "are the original recyclers," the Economist reports—but their trade of mining trash for re-sellable goods is in trouble. The city, hoping to clean up for the 2010 Commonwealth games, has hired private companies to collect trash—and ragpickers, who save the city 600,000 rupees daily in waste disposal, are finding it harder to come by.
Mostly dalits, or "untouchables," the scavengers have lost earnings as the companies dump garbage in inaccessible bins. An advocate says that their $2.50 to $3.75 daily income is at stake, as is India’s bite-sized green reputation. “The government wants Mumbai to be modern, clean,” she said. “But it will take away the livelihoods of these people.”