Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Messed Up Tale of the BMC Workers

A prequel-Read this first

Having read the article in the Times , I learnt that the world is a very cruel place. These people have to earn their living by cleaning up our spoils and yet they have no support. Aren’t they human beings? Don't they have basic fundamental rights to hygiene and health care? And you'll be appalled to learn that these figures only apply to the permanent employees. The on-contract employees are not even considered in this fact-finding.

Most of the articles that Anuj and I went through show that it is the Dalits who are performing this great humanitarian service. But what are they getting in return? They get only death, disease and extreme humiliation from their fellow human beings. I am sure none of us can even imagine tasks like picking up filth from gutters, cleaning up the public toilets or sweeping the garbage of the streets. But these things have to be done. Have we ever given a thought to
actually who does them?

These conservancy workers do them. Because they have no other option. Maybe, they have no option, but the government sure does. They can provide them with better hygiene facilities and better equipment. Their healthcare options are the same as applicable to any other municipal employees. The consultation is free at municipal hospitals. But medication is almost unavailable since the civic stores are always out of stock and they cannot afford private chemists at
their meager salaries.

Sudharak Olwe has done a photo feature "In Search Of Dignity And Justice: The Untold Story Of Mumbai’s Conservancy Workers" and you can find it here.This photo essay has fetched him the award of National Geography Society’s 2005 All Roads Photography Program.

Maybe its time to stop harking after the Abhisheks and the Aishwaryas and pay more attention to serious issues like these. The Safai Kamgar Parivartan Sangh is a body representing the conservancy staff of the BMC. You can contact them at +91-22-24102694.

No comments: