Bengaluru

Fear prompts absenteeism among pourakarmikas

The Standard Operating Procedure on waste collection and disposal in the context of the pandemic has not trickled down to the workers.

The Standard Operating Procedure on waste collection and disposal in the context of the pandemic has not trickled down to the workers.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

Many pourakarmikas and supervisors are now fearing contracting the COVID-19, especially after 23 pourakarmikas tested positive recently. This has resulted in absenteeism to some extent.

Over the past month, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has received as many as 1,900 complaints related to garbage and solid waste management. From waste not being picked up to continued dumping at black spots, most of the complaints were received on the Sahaaya 2.0 platform.

“There are over 17,000 pourakarmikas on the rolls. On an average, there are just around 13,000 pourakarmikas on the field,” said a BBMP official. The official also said that the average number of pourakarmikas on the field was less since the lockdown was imposed. “Most of the pourakarmikas are from the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Many of them had returned home and are yet to come back,” the official said.

‘Fears not unfounded’

The fears of the pourakarmikas are not unfounded, pointed out Maithreyi Krishnan from the BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha. She said that pourakarmikas were given protective gear at the beginning of the lockdown.

“Many were given disposable masks that they continue to use after washing. The BBMP has not taken steps to assuage the fears of these workers,” she said and added that used masks and gloves in the waste cleared by the pourakarmikas had also sparked fear of infection. “The vehicles and push carts of the pourakarmikas are not being sanitised,” she added.

Concurring, waste management expert N.S. Ramakanth said that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on waste collection and disposal from containment zones and houses, where some member has been placed under quarantine, had not trickled down to the workers.

The Sangha has now taken up a survey among pourakarmikas on protective gear, knowledge of SOPs and insurance coverage.

‘90% redressal rate’

BBMP officials said though the civic body is focussing largely on checking the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the city, it is ensuring waste gets picked up for disposal either at the processing plants or the quarry pit every day. They added that the redressal rate was above 90%.

“Since clearing the waste is a priority, we ensure that all complaints are addressed within 24 hours,” said an official.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 7:26:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/fear-prompts-absenteeism-among-pourakarmikas/article32024761.ece

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