PMC, Swach blame one another as sanitary workers suffer in Pune

For the past two years now, 3,600 sanitation workers in the city have been working without basic necessities like soap to wash their hands; footwear and gloves, lack of drinking water, aprons and toilets at waste sorting sheds of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

When asked about the reason for the apathy, officials from PMC and the sanitation workers cooperative, Swach, blame each other for the issue.

On January 24, 2019, Aparna Susarla, director at Swach Cooperative, wrote to Dynaneshwar Molak, PMC’s joint commissioner, solid waste management department that the 3,600 waste pickers working for the PMC did not have basic equipment to do their job.

“We have not received the equipment due to us for at least two years now. We urge the PMC to ensure that this equipment is made available to the 3,600 Swach sanitation workers on an urgent basis,” Susarla wrote in her letter.

“The workers have been working relentlessly and contributing to the Swach Bharat Abhiyan, thus, compromising their health and dignity,” the letter states

“Buckets break very fast and are a constant need,” stressed Susarla.

“We require 28,800 buckets for 3,600 members every six months or twice a year, but so far we have received only 10,000 buckets in 2018. Similarly, the sanitation workers had to work getting drenched in rain in 2018, as no raincoats have been given to them for the past two years. We had also asked for soaps, which is one of the most important requirement to disinfect for the sanitation workers after picking up garbage, but since 2016, we haven’t received soap. We require 24 pieces (86,400) per person per year,” Susarla wrote in the letter.

On the other hand, Molak, said the demands have been met.

“In the last month, we have given the sanitation workers pushcarts and buckets. Swach is supposed to buy the waste pickers their uniforms and gloves. We spend approximately Rs 3.5 to Rs 4 crore per year according to the agreement between the PMC and Swach,” said Molak.

“We are in the role of a support system to Swach and help them with their welfare and equipment which we are in the process of procuring,” Molak further added.

Safety gear a must for workers of Adar Poonawalla initiative

The sanitation workers are doing a dignified job, says Krishnan Komandur, incharge of Adar Poonawalla clean city initiative.

“We look at this as a philanthropic initiative and provide all safety equipment and tools to handle waste properly,” said Komandur.

“In safety equipment, special attention is given to protection with safety shoes, gloves, masks and a uniform made of cotton which is comfortable to work in,” he added.

“We also provide the waste pickers with a bottle of water while working in the sun during the day,” he added.

Adar Poonawalla Clean City initiative has been operational in the city since 2014. It is extending support to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for collecting street waste.

350 workers work on the ground including supervisors, helpers, operators and drivers besides 50 back office staff.

First Published:
Apr 27, 2019 16:23 IST

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