Corporation health officer says those Clean Well workers who are ready have been included in the drive.
The Attukal Pongala this time will be a bittersweet occasion for S. Fatima of Karimadam Colony in the city. Unlike in earlier years, this Kudumbasree Clean Well worker of the city corporation, who was rendered jobless by the agitation at Vilappilsala solid waste treatment plant, will not be taking part in the post-Pongala cleaning drive.
But then, it would mean that for the first time in three years Fatima can composedly offer pongala to Attukal Bhagavathy without worrying about rushing for the cleaning duty.
“Although I belong to a different religion I have huge faith in Amma's power. I have been offering pongala for the past seven years, despite opposition from family. In the last few years, I could not do it with full contend as I had to rush for cleaning duty. But this time, I can be there until the ritual is completed,'' said Fatima.
Despite her delight at this prospect, it is with shaking voice that Fatima says why she decided to stay out of the corporation's pongala cleaning drive. Although corporation officials did ask Fatima and 24 other Clean Well workers of the Chala unit to joint the cleaning drive, they turned down the offer.
“They did ask us to come for pongala cleaning duty. But we decided not to go because it was just for one day's duty. After pongala the corporation will continue to treat us shabbily, as they did after the closing down of the Vilappilsala plant. Why should we offer our service for one day alone?'' she asks.
V. Minimol, a member of Valiyashala Clean Well unit, is also happy about being able to offer pongala on Wednesday after a gap of five years. “Since I was involved in the corporation's cleaning activity for the last five years I could not offer pongala. But this time I can offer and I have a lot to pray for,'' said the mother of three who is struggling to make ends meet after she lost her livelihood.
“But we were not even asked by the corporation to join the pongala cleaning drive. Usually Clean Well units from Valiyashala, Chenkal, Chenthitta and nearby areas are deployed for the drive in the festival zone where there is restriction for men. But this time nobody from our unit was asked to join the drive,'' she said
“May be it is because we are part of the stir against the corporation. However Clean Well workers who are not part of the stir have been asked to come for the cleaning drive,'' she said.
Corporation health officer D. Sreekumar said that the civic body had tried to involve willing Clean Well workers in the post-pongala cleaning drive. “It is true that some Clean Well workers refused to join the drive. Those who have been willing to join have been included,'' he said.
Besides 900 permanent cleaning staff of the corporation, around 1,700 temporary workers have been deployed for the cleaning drive which will begin soon after the ‘pongala nivedyam' to be held at 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday.The waste collected from roadside after pongala will be taken to seven sites for land-filling.
Apart from leftover kindling, the corporation will also have to dispose of some amount of food waste generated from mass meals.