South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Partial Interventions and Everyday Practices: Apprehending a Scrap Market in Delhi

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Virginia Suite B, Lobby Level

In 2010, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Delhi High Court following the appearance of radioactive waste in one of India's largest metal scrap and parts markets, located in Delhi. The petition sought to shift the market from its current location, describing the activities of the market as 'dangerous', 'polluting', and a 'threat' to the lives of people in its surrounding areas. The case was subsequently moved to the then newly formed National Green Tribunal, and for the next five years, the market fell under intense scrutiny, with some of its practices being reorganised in fundamental ways.


 


In this paper, I analyze the trajectory of this case to focus on the production of a series of orders that banned the use of certain tools in the market and created a system to classify “polluting activities” to enable stricter regulation. I do this alongside a backdrop of ethnographic description of the everyday value making practices and logics of the market into which these orders intervene, producing a variegated field of unexpected consequences. Through these accounts, I provide a snapshot of the complexity of the state's imbrication, often fundamental, but only partial and at multiple and disjointed levels, in the commercial practices of the scrap market. Following from this, I explore how current practices around discarded materials and objects trouble and direct a reformulation of notions of waste management and livability in contemporary India.

Ishani Saraf

University of California, Davis, California

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