Under GST, 12 per cent tax on sanitary pads: Why not spend on their disposal too, advices this waste collector

The 46-year-old collects waste in the NDMC area, where she and her husband go door-to-door picking up cardboard, plastic, glass bottles, and periodicals — all recyclable for a sum of money.

Written by Sowmiya Ashok | New Delhi | Updated: July 6, 2017 12:54 pm
GST, Tax on sanitary pads, sanitary napkin tax, cleaning lady Manwara Begum

Seated on a mat next to her rickshaw, Manwara Begum says there are days when she cannot bring herself to eat. An informal worker and a member of the Safai Sena, 46-year-old Begum collects waste in the NDMC area. She and her husband go door-to-door picking up cardboard, plastic, glass bottles, and periodicals — all recyclable for a sum of money. However, there is another kind of waste that is a nuisance to deal with.

On days when she is handed a large package filled with soft rectangles stained with blood, her appetite entirely escapes her. The first time she encountered a stained sanitary napkin, Manwara was eight years old. She had accompanied her father to a hospital in the New Delhi area to clear the dustbins.

“I saw blood on white napkins and didn’t know what it was,” she said. Years later, she would use them herself. She has since switched back to using cloth: “I can wash and reuse it. It’s cleaner.”

Manwara and her husband, Mohammad Nazir, can be found sorting out trash very close to the Leela Hotel in Central Delhi.

Stating that her biggest batch of sanitary napkins is from the embassies that line Chanakyapuri, Manwara says, “There should be separate government dustbins to dispose of sanitary napkins and diapers. Otherwise, dogs often rip apart a used napkin.”

She has heard of the tax on sanitary napkins. “If people are going to make money on a product, they should also care about how it is disposed. These companies should provide clearly marked disposable covers which can serve as markers for people like us, so we know exactly what we are dealing with.”

When confronted with a batch of used napkins, Manwara and Nazir dispose it at the nearest dhalao. For the past few months, however, she has stopped doing her rounds owing to ill-health. Her son fills in for her now.

Over the past four decades, the couple have seen the city expand through its garbage. “There was hardly any garbage when I was a kid. Now, there are different varieties of the same product,” says Manwara.

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  1. A
    Aadarsh
    Jul 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm
    This dumb fu c k Modi is a jerk. This 4th pass chaiwala doesn't know that sanitary napkins are not a luxury but necessity for women. Thousands of women in India under pe ion of MP Susmita Das sent a pe ion to Arun Jaitley and Maneka Gandhi to make sanitary napkins tax free. Not only common citizens but politicians like Rahul Gandhi, women MPs of Congress, women IPSs, even Smriti Irani, Maneka Gandhi of his own party supported the movement. Jaitley even accepted the pe ion and had expressed to make sanitary napkims tax free in India to lower down the cost. Almost 80 women in rural India don't use sanitary napkins bcoz they are costly. India is not America that earns minimum 15 dollars a day. This i d i o t ineducated Modi needs to learn basics of economy first and then the basic needs of women healthcare. How would he know anyway bcoz neither he accepted his wife or lived with her or has a young daughter to know that women do menstruate and sanitary napkins are a necessity not a luxury
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  2. R
    Ramesh Chhabra
    Jul 6, 2017 at 7:58 am
    How many dhalos are other than NDMC areas? Collected waste from houses/ wastes are thrown near by roads without dhalaos. Waste are lying here and there. Straying dogs can seen on these waste. There are so many other luxury items other than sanitary pads/ diapers like beer/ whisky bottles, used napkins, unwrapped polythene packs etc.
    Reply