[by Mark Magnier. the L.A. Times, 4/22/2012]
NEW DELHI — The children didn’t notice the ravens and occasional vulture circling overhead, or the stream of black ooze that flowed nearby, or the inescapable stench of decay. They were squealing over a 4-cent ride on a small, hand-powered Ferris wheel.
The kids are growing up in New Delhi’s 70-acre Ghazipur landfill, a post-apocalyptic world where hundreds of pickers climb a 100-foot-high trash pile daily, dodging and occasionally dying beneath belching bulldozers that reshape the putrid landscape.
On “trash mountain,” families earn $1 to $2 a day slogging through waist-deep muck. But the residents also marry, have children on their dirt floors, pray and celebrate life’s other milestones.
“I am very proud to be a rag picker; we keep you healthy,” said Jai Prakash Choudhary, who has spent years scouring Delhi’s dumps in search of cast-off bottles, metal, even human hair.