The idiom “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been more apt! A Pakistani going by the name of Roshan Lal has made a living out of a truly peculiar. He accumulates gold particles found in sewerage drains of a gold market, Sarrafa Bazaar, in Sukkur, Pakistan, separates them and then sells it to make his ends meet.
All he has to do is use a sifter and place it through the muddy sewage water. He collects the tiny stones through this and then scours through the contents of his bowl to single out minuscule gold particles from the rest.
It takes him hours of meticulous work to find actual gold particles, but this has been Roshan’s family “business,” with his grandfather Darshan Lal starting this creative practice and his father Jawahar Lal continuing the trend.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Roshan revealed that he has been making a living like this since he was a child,
“Goldsmiths prepare ornaments from gold, during which they cut the gold into pieces and thus tiny particles are left, which, at the end of the day, are swept into the drain along with the dirt in the shop,” he explained. “Therefore I start my work early in the morning and by the evening I manage to find 250 to 300 milligrammes of gold,” said Roshan.
He added that previously there many people working on the same practice, but due to the amount of effort, almost all of them have left this business,
“Now, only two or three of us are left in this business and everyone finds something [else] to provide bread and butter to their respective families,” he said.
Roshan claims that he can only find about 250 to 300 milligrams of gold per day, which is just enough to put food on the table,
“I’ve found many pieces of gold-like metal and now I’ll go home and sift through this in a special bowl and add acid to the mix to determine which is actually gold,” he said.
Roshan uses an acid which melts every metal except gold to separate the gold particles. Then he collects all the particles, melts them together into a tiny ball, and refine them with the addition of another acid.
“This is how I manage to get some gold after toiling all day. I usually earn between Rs500 to Rs700 per day” (~$5 to $7)
President of the Sarrafa Association, Sukkur, Jawed Memon commented on the practice and claimed that it is very difficult:
“This is a very lengthy process and therefore most of the sweepers have quit searching for gold, In the past, most of the jewelers used to prepare gold ornaments at their shops, due to which dozens of sweepers used to find gold in the drains. But now a majority of the jewelers order ornaments from Karachi and therefore there are few goldsmiths left at the bazaar,” Memon said.
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