All of them promise to shun alcohol; sanitary inspectors told to monitor them
Forty-three-year-old V. Paraman’s work begins at 5.30 a.m. everyday. After cleaning the streets and collecting garbage in South R.S. Puram, he would head to a liquor outlet in the area for his morning drink.
“I used to start with a ‘quarter’ (180 ml of alcohol) in the morning.”
The conservancy worker would return to complete pending works for the Coimbatore Corporation to only return to a liquor outlet around 1 p.m. “The afternoon drink was another quarter.” And, Paraman ended his day with another ‘quarter’ before supper at 8 p.m.
This had been his routine for as long as he can remember. “I think I started drinking when I was 18,” said the worker who had now vowed to not take a sip after undergoing the seven-day de-addiction programme the Corporation conducted.
At the de-addiction centre he had a very difficult time. Paraman, like the six other workers undergoing the de-addiction programme, would find one reason or another to walk out of the centre for a quick drink, or smoke or chewable tobacco, said S. Nagalakshmi, the Corporation pharmacist who attended to the workers during their week-long stay.
After trying out all tricks in their book, the workers started complaining from the second or third day that the facilities were not good, or the food was bad or that they were being prevented from doing urgent work.
But that was the exact phase during which they would begin to open up on their problems which they would attribute to their addiction to liquor.
It was also the time for the psychologists to establish rapport, said R. Abubakkar Sithikh, a clinical psychologist who worked with the conservancy workers.
From the second day till the fifth day, the workers would suffer from withdrawal symptoms. To help them overcome those, the doctors administered tranquilisers and not sedatives, said P. Balu, psychiatrist, Krishna Nursing Home.
The Corporation had tied up with Krishna Nursing Home that runs the Alcoholics Anonymous to also run the de-addiction centre.
Corporation Commissioner G. Latha, who interacted with the workers prior to their discharge on Saturday, told them that the civic body would initiate stringent action if they were found working under the influence of alcohol.
She also told them that if they saved the Rs. 200 – Rs. 300 they spent everyday on liquor, they would be able to buy jewellery for their wives or daughters. She then asked them to be present for the weekly meetings, where their attendance would be monitored.
City Health Officer P. Aruna asked the sanitary inspectors and sanitary supervisors to ensure that the workers who underwent the de-addiction programme did not report for work in inebriated condition.