By Kanika Dhupar @kanika_kd

THE only noise heard at Asia’s largest scrapyard is the sound of hammering

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Man at Mayapuri scrapyard does a bit of welding

Labourers at the Mayapuri scrapyard in West Delhi, India, dismantle everything from scooters to an obsolete ship.

Initially, this scrap yard used to function from Motiya Khan near Sadar Market, where nearly 500 units were operational. However, in the early seventies it was shifted to Mayapuri for security reasons.

A worker shows his feet as he reveals he had his big toe amputated after an iron rod fell on his right foot

As Mayapuri was fully surrounded by jungles, only 20 scrap traders came to Mayapuri.

But today over 4,000 small-scale units are operational at this junkyard - which has an annual turnover of more than £600 million.

Vehicles travel here to be dismantled in Mayapuri's muddy lanes

Vehicles are brought to the dusty bylanes of Mayapuri from across the country, a truck can be dismantled in under two hours while a car will take anywhere between 30-40 minutes.

The parts to be re-sold are sent off to second hand shops, and the leftovers are collected and disposed of by metal scrap dealers.

Group of men work on dismantling a car

Chotu Lal, 35, from the neighbouring state - Uttar Pradesh - has been working at this junkyard for the last seven years, earning around £90 per month.

He supports his aged parents, wife and their four children none of the kids are able to go to school as funds are tight.

Mayapuri scrapyard makes an annual turnover of £600 million

He said: “I came from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi hoping to find a job as a clerk. After doing measly jobs for a while, a friend suggested to look for a job at Mayapuri junkyard.

Working at the scrapyard can be hazardous to the health of the labourers

“There has been no looking back ever since. I started my family after I came to Delhi and the job gives me enough to provide food and a few amenities for my family."

It is reported that India recycles only 25% of its metal waste and the unorganised industry is largely dominated by private players with little or no intervention from the government.

A hardworking labourer takes a breather
Parts that are still in working order are sent to secondhand shops

Safety measures appear to be minimal - a radiation leak in 2010 killed one person and injured 10 others.

Ever since the incident cobalt 60 and lead batteries are now checked properly, with any suspicious vehicles likely to have radioactive materials being sent straight to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

Vehicles from around India end up at the scrap yard

However, hired labourers are unaware of the fatal diseases and happily sift through the pile to pick up items that can be then fitted into another car, a bike or even a computer or an air-conditioner.

Throughout the day a lot of waste is dumped near an intersection by open drains which is then all burnt making it almost impossible to breathe due to the smell of iron and burning metals.