Your space: PCMC should bring dignity to sanitary workUpdated: Feb 03, 2019 14:31 IST
The conservancy staff working without safety equipment in the city. The safety and security of sanitation workers should be the top priority for authorities. However PCMC failed to provide them basic facilities such as gloves, safety boots and face masks.(HT PHOTO)
The problem of failing to provide basic equipment to conservancy staff is not only restricted to Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) but it also prevails in Pune, Mumbai and other civic bodies. The sanitary staff have taken a bold step by approaching the National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe for justice. It is the responsibility of the civic body to provide the conservancy staff with drinking water,hand gloves,protective boots and masks.
The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in its budget allocates Rs 5,500 crore every year for sanitation. The civic commissioner can make separate budgetary allocations for gloves, boots and uniforms for the conservancy staff. However, the civic body does not want to take the responsibility of the staff hence, they prefer the recruitment of sanitary staff on contract basis. But these contractors are ignoring the safety of these workers and are avoiding to invest in basic necessities like gloves and masks which is the root cause of the problem. The civic body should stop recruiting sanitary staff on contract basis.
Provide women staff with good working conditions
On one hand we are we are harping about initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and on the other conservancy staff are literally begging for basic utilities to keep our city clean. This is ridiculous and needs immediate cognisance.The neglect of women conservancy workers seems to be still worse as they have pointed to the absence of changing rooms and drinking water facilities. The PCMC was planning to spend an Rs. 6.5 crore to purchase smart watches for its conservancy staff in order to keep a watch on their movement. All would agree that the conservancy staff does not need smart watches as much as it needs gloves, boots, uniforms, face masks, soaps and sanitizers, decent washrooms and regular health checkups to bring better hygiene standards and dignity to their work. It is shameful that the civic body cannot make provisions for basic necessities.
Do not compare civic problems to bullet trains
Comparing the development works such as bullet train, moon mission and Smart cities with the amenities provided to the conservancy staff is wrong as the comparison aligns to a certain political narrative which we should not fall for. Having said so, it is equally important for us to ensure the safety and hygiene of the conservancy staff. The National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe have taken a good step by summoning Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar for failing to provide basic equipment to its conservancy staff. It is the duty of the civic body to look after the needs of these staff members. If the civic body fails to do so, severe action must be taken against the concerned authorities.
Safety essentials should be given
It is saddening to hear that the civic conservancy staff faces such humiliation on a daily basis. The authorities should ensure that their basic essentials are in place. A clean pair of boots, gloves and uniforms is not a big thing to ask for. Having said that, I hope these utilities are of safe material and don’t cause any further harm to the staff using it.
Continuous follow-up and thorough investigation is a must
A civic body refraining from doing its basic duties is not a new thing for the citizens and the staff members of the civic body. However, when it is being made accountable for the negligence of such an important issue as done by the National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, it has to be welcomed. Considering the way our bureaucracy works, issuing summons would not be enough as the commission should follow it up at regular intervals. The report which will be submitted by the PCMC for failing to provide basic equipment to its conservancy workers should be thoroughly investigated by the commission, as civic bodies exhibiting good numbers on paper is a popular affair. Having said so, we should not compare developmental works with these issues. Both the aspects have their own importance.
Unhygienic conditions responsible for staffs deteriorating health
The government has been talking about Swachh Bharat mission and launching new ways to keep the country clean. However, the government is failing to do so with its staff members. It is a sad state to see the civic staff having to demand for basic utilities such as gloves, boots, uniforms and face masks to ensure optimum standards of hygiene and safety in their work. The civic body does not realise that unhygienic conditions of conservancy staff may lead to various diseases and will deteriorate their health. Authorities should look into this immediately.
Civic conservancy staff deserve a better deal
The staff that keeps the city clean are the most neglected ones. The civic conservancy staff deserve a better deal from its employers and the society. As per rule employers must provide safety gears like gloves, mask, sturdy footwears and helmets to the conservancy staff, but the irony is that they are asked to work without these gears.We hear so many cases of deaths of conservancy staff due to toxic fumes from manholes only because they were not given proper safety gears. It is a fact that conservancy workers often fall prey to diseases like Tuberculoses (TB). It is observed that not many youths opt for this job as there is a high risk of contracting life-threatening diseases. It is very much necessary to give importance to conservancy work and workers and all civic bodies need to have a empathy towards them and provide them with good working conditions.
Maya Hemant Bhatkar
Do not neglect sanitary staff
In March 2017,15,000 conservancy staff from Mumbai civic body were unable to celebrate Holi as they did not receive their salaries.On the similar line in November 2018, conservancy staff of Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation could not celebrate Diwali,as the civic body failed to pay their salary.These two examples are enough to show,how conservancy staff is being treated by civic bodies.Can civic body hold monthly salaries of their administrative staff?. Most of the conservancy workers are illiterate and unorganised hence, the bureaucracy is using them accordingly. And now in 2019 the conservancy staff are not been given basic equipments for hygiene. I have often seen workers cleaning manholes without any protection. The civic body does not seem to care about the lives of its staff members, however this should not be the case.
Health of the staff should be top priority
Gloves and face masks should be given to the conservancy staff as it prevents the hands from getting dirty and also prevents any kind of skin infection and other serious ailments. The mask is also a must as it prevents any pollution hazards. The health of these workers should be a top priority for the civic bodies.While the government is looking to make Pune a smart city the basic necessities of sanitary workers should be mandatory
State government should intervene
The biggest problem in Pune is the city’s shrinking land space for development.People do not have place to live in and end up living in slums. In such a situation, it is a huge challenge for the civic body to provide basic amenities, services, and shelter to the citizens.The equipments provided to the workers are outdated, damaged and inadequate.Sanitation workers do not get safety equipments such as gloves, masks, safety belt and safety shoes.As a result workers have to face skin and respiratory tract infections, malaria, dengue, back and knee pain, paralysis, hypertension, asthma, tuberculosis and noise pollution .If civic body is not ready to address their problems then state government should intervene in this matter and solve problem.
First Published: Feb 03, 2019 14:29 IST