Bengaluru: Tonnes and tonnes of scrap lying everywhere. Hundreds of men in hundreds of shops are selling and buying; looking busy as ever. It is just another day at Jolly Mohalla – Bengaluru's scrap headquarters.
Located in Chamrajpet, Jolly Mohalla is where most of city's scrap ends up. The scrap yard receives over 1,000 tonnes of scrap every day. Rag pickers and scrap dealers sell the junk to bigger dealers at the yard.
M Ravikumar, a third generation scrap dealer, says the yard is over 50 years old. "Earlier, this road was known as Cart Stand Road," he says pointing at the road. "Soldiers during Tipu's time used to bring their horse tongas and bullock carts to park here and feed them. Now, the name of the road has changed."
The yard houses over 500 shops and employs thousands of workers. "Many people, especially rag pickers, sell cartons to us. We pay Rs10 for one huge gunny bag and Rs 15 for one huge carton," adds Ravi. There is a small factory where cartons are pressed and sent for recycling.
There are women workers here as well. Most of them are employed to open stitches of gunny bags and check for damage.
Savithri, a resident of Byatrayanpura, has been working at the yard for more than 10 years now. "I have to open the stitches of gunny bags. The bags are then sent to big factories where they stitch them neatly and label them. Later, they are used for packing. I earn Rs350 every day," says Savithri.
Rajesh, who is from Orissa, works in a shop which deals in metal scrap. "I have been working here for three years," says Rajesh explaining the work. "We receive all kinds of metal scrap. We have to segregate them. Small nuts and bolts are sent to Delhi for melting. The money is paid to us on quantity basis. I earn Rs 450 per day."
Everything that arrives at the yard is sent to Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat. There are no factories here to melt these items, " says Ravikumar.
The most tiring and dangerous job is of people who deal with wires and cables. Men use bare hands to remove copper from the wires. The copper fetches good money.
Veeru, another worker from Orissa, has pulling out copper wire for the past five years. He stays with other men in a single room which they have rented nearby. "I came in search of job to Bengaluru. Someone told me about this job and so I am here. I get paid Rs 450 per day," he says and shows his hands, which have turned coal dark due to the nature of the job.
"Hands and legs turn black when we take out the copper wire. It drains us completely," he says. And then adds, "We have to do it for the sake of livelihood."