Labourers work with minimum safety gear, travel to work from containment zones sans ID cards
The pre-monsoon work includes clearing drainage and storm-water lines, repair of culverts and rebuilding fencing walls near nallahs.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 05:29 IST
As Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has undertaken pre-monsoon work in the city a group of labourers was found cleaning the stormwater lines, near Sadhu Vaswani chowk with minimum safety gear on Tuesday afternoon amid the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic caused due to sars-Cov-2 virus.
These workers also commute from containment zones to the work area without any identity cards, according to the supervisor Rajendra Waghmare.
The pre-monsoon work includes clearing drainage and storm-water lines, repair of culverts and rebuilding fencing walls near nallahs.
HT reporter found that the men were working with masks or handkerchiefs which covered their face.
Datta Manwatkar, 25, one of the labourers, who lives in Yashwantnagar, Yerawada, with his wife and is a native of Sultanpur Buldhana, said, “We have these gumboots and these gloves that are given to us, but it is very difficult to work in these as they are oversized. Going down this duct, if we hit the water, these boots are of no help.”
When asked about safety measures prescribed to them, their supervisor Waghmare, said, “We have been given sanitizers and soap to wash hands before lunch.”
Vijay Shinde, superintending engineer, road department, PMC, said, “This is the process of stormwater clearing. They simply clear the debris that may be stuck in these lines to allow rainwater to flow. It is the annual rain work. In this condition, only social distancing is an option and they have been instructed about it. This work needs to be done.”
Shinde also agreed that the use of gloves is not an option for this work. The work requires them to enter two to four feet deep stormwater lines and clear the debris or garbage if any.
Waghmare is a resident of Lakshminagar area of Yerawada which contains several micro-clusters identified by Pune police for having over five positive Covid-19 cases. Yashwantnagar is located close to Lakshminagar.
When asked about the difficulty in entering and leaving the containment zone in the area where the labourers and Waghmare come from, Waghmare says, “We work in the essential services. This works needs to be completed.” However, none of the workers have identity cards to that effect, he added.
For the past five days, they have cleaned silt and potential blockages in sewage lines near Naidu hospital, a hub for Covid-19 treatment in the city, regional transport office (RTO), Jehangir hospital road, and the stretch between ZP chowk and Pune railway station, according to Waghmare.
The Pune civic body this year has undertaken pre-monsoon work on a large scale given the September last year’s flash floods that killed 26 and caused massive damage to properties.