Government's olive branch to form SHGs has no takers
Pourakarmikas want city corporation to pay their salaries
Their pending wages amount to Rs. 10 crore
GULBARGA: Reduced to extreme privation, over 400 pourakarmikas (sweepers) of the Gulbarga City Corporation continue to fight with their backs to the wall. They have not received their monthly wages for the past 35 months.
Many have returned to their villages, others have been thrown out of their houses for not paying rent, and many of their children have been forced out of their schools for not paying fees.
The plight of these workers, a majority of them Dalits or women, caught popular attention after the former Labour Minister, S.K. Kanta, took up their cause and went on a fast in Gulbarga city. These pourakarmikas, who first started working in the city corporation in the early 2000s as contract labourers, began organising themselves in 2004-05 when the contractors refused to pay their full salary and extend other benefits. They managed to get the City Corporation to pay their salaries directly rather than through the contractors.
Till the year 2006-07, the pourakarmikas were paid their salaries directly by the city corporation. But from 2007, the city corporation stopped payment on the grounds that it did not have the money from the regular salary head of accounts. In turn, it asked the government to release funds for payment of their salaries.
The pourakarmikas have been working in the corporation since 2007 and the sanitary inspectors have recorded their attendance every day. As per its records, the corporation has to pay pending wages of nearly Rs. 10 crore to the 400 plus pourakarmikas as of today. The State Government has offered to pay minimum wages to the permanent pourakarmikas in the urban local bodies, provided they form their own Self-Help Groups.
The Government has said that the pourakarmikas on the rolls now would be provided assured employment through these SHGs till they attain the retirement age of 60. The Government has also assured them that their pending wages for 35 months would be paid through SHGs.
The pourakarmikas, however, are not buying the promise, and are insisting on direct payment from the city corporation.