Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The CPI and CPI (M) staged a walkout in the Assembly on Monday resenting the helplessness of the State government in mitigating the exploitation of washermen by contractors. The parties were sore that the government refused to withdraw a Tamil Nadu-based contractor Vinod Reddy who was awarded the contract to wash the entire cloth material belonging to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). Mr. Reddy executed the contract by employing washermen from Chittoor district. They faced exploitation in the process instead of earning the job work themselves, the CPI (M) floor leader Nomula Narasimhaiah alleged.

The CPI (M) leader demanded the work to be handed over to the Chittoor District Washermens’ Cooperative Federation but Endowments Minister J. Ratnakar Rao turned it down as the federation lacked mechanisation to handle the job. Mr. Rao said the contract involved washing and drying thousands of clothes on a single day. The work could not be executed without the help of machines. He promised to award the contract to the federation if it introduced mechanisation.

Mr. Narasimhaiah said the social standing of the washermen community was lower than the Scheduled Castes. Instead of helping them to improve their living standards, the government forced them to work for a middleman from outside the State.