“Rubbish Mountain”
Ghazipur Municipal Dump, New Delhi.
[Urban-landscape; urban-environment.]

 

The project was begun in late February 2020 -a few weeks before the national lockdown in India. Riding through Ghazipur on a tuc-tuc on my way to somewhere else, slowly choking on the stench, a mountain appeared out of nowehere, inumerable hawks circling above. It seemed unreal in the late afternoon, uncomfortably hot, the sun shining through the layer of poison which hangs above Delhi, generally, and above the mountain, particularly. I asked the driver to stop because i wanted to get out and see -No! he said, this isn’t a place for a man to stop. So i asked him to drop me off…

Around the municipal dump people live and work: there’s a town, a chicken-market, a fish-market, food-stalls and chai-shops. It’s busy -a constant motion, on the ground and in the sky. And although i stood there like a sore thumb, nobody bothered me. Yes, they looked intensely, as people do in India, but they went on by about their business.

I planned to go there for most of the day, five days a week over a couple of months -and i tried -but i couldn’t: the pollution sticks to the sweat on your skin and sits heavy and dirty in your lungs. Two or three hours a day was all i could do.

Then, as i started to find the story, the district around the dump was shut-down (the first district in Delhi to be quarantined before the full national lockdown). No-one was allowed in or out. Of course, i tried to get back in, i suppose because i couldn’t believe it was really shut -what would people there do if they couldn’t leave, how would they live? I learned soon enough that it really was, and that people are often left to fend for themselves, especially if they are poor. I waited, hoping… then the whole country went into lockdown, and, after a couple of months i had to leave India.

The photographs here are threads of stories from the Rubbish Mountain, currently incomplete. When the world has opened up again i’ll go back. Perhaps the mountain will be bigger.