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What a waste!

Waste management and how to turn waste into resources was on the agenda when Norway’s Minister of International Development, Nikolai Astrup, visited Delhi yesterday.

During his stay, Minister Astrup visited the Ghazipur landfill, which is home to an impressive amount of waste. The "waste mountain" is about 60 meters high, far higher than the approved maximum hight of 20 meter. Ghazipur is one of the oldest landfills in Delhi, and poses serious environmental, health and safety hazards to the families living in the area. The Minister visited a waste-to-energy plant at the landfill, run by the Indian infrastructure development company Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS). IL&FS emphasized the urgent need for better waste management in India, and highlighted the country’s huge potential to use waste as resources.

While in Ghazipur, the Minister got to visit one of IL&FS’ CRS projects, Gulmeher. The project has given ragpickers, who used to operate on the landfill, a safe, new alternative to waste picking: The women make handicrafts out of recycled paper and discarded flowers from Ghazipur’s flower market, while their children are educated at Panchi, one of Gulmeher’s education initiatives.

Later during the day, Minister Astrup met with Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, and Minister of Environment, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Waste handling was a major issue also in these meetings, and it is clear that India wants to make use of Norwegian experiences and expertise in these matters. Minister Astrup also had discussions with some of the Embassy’s local partners that works with environment.

Before his visit to Delhi, Minister Astrup attended the annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Mumbai. Astrup is an AIIB Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors. While in Mumbai, he also met with the Norwegian Consulate, and got time to a short clean-up at one of Mumbai’s beaches with local NGO’s.