Several domestic breeding checkers of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Civil Lines Zone visited the zonal office on Tuesday to meet the deputy health officer to demand wages that are due to them along with medical benefits and a weekly off. A collective cry of “No!” erupted when Anti-Malaria Karamchari Sangh’s general secretary Ashok Chaudhary asked the assembled group if they had received wages for the last three months.

“We have not received wages since July 16,” said Sanjeev Tomar from Azadpur who has been a DBC worker for 17 years. “Officials sometimes blame the banks in which we have accounts for the lag but if we have received wages in the past then why is it a problem now?”

Others such as Sanjeev Kumar (44) who has a family of four to support says that the monthly amount of Rs. 7356 which is due to a DBC is miniscule but even that is not given to them on time. “I need to save money to get my two daughters married off,” he said.

A majority of the DBC workers who were present complained of irregular wages, unavailability of medical benefits or casual leave entitlements. “Even if we are contract labourers, we should be given some amount of medical benefits. The nature of our work is such that we are putting ourselves in harm’s way since we check for dengue carrying mosquitoes,” said Dharmender Sharma, adding some DBC workers have also hurt themselves while inspecting overhead tanks.

While the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has approved a weekly off for the DBCs under its jurisdiction, those falling under NDMC work all seven days, said Mr. Chaudhary. “Regarding this we have written to the Municipal Health Officer on October 8 and we hope to get a response,” he added.

However, NDMC Municipal Commissioner P. K. Gupta clarified this point by saying that this was the case only because the dengue disease is at its peak right now. “Normally, DBCs get a weekly-off but since it’s the peak season for dengue we have asked them to work even on Sundays. This arrangement will last only for another 15 to 20 days after which they will be compensated for their efforts,” he said.

Responding to the claims on the lag in salary payments, Mr. Gupta said that there was absolutely no delay in payments.

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