Lack of basic safety equipment result in frequent illnesses for the pourakarmikas
Bangalore, April 9, 2018: “Everyday even after washing my hands with soap, my hands stink. It has been 12 years that I am cleaning waste, still we don’t have proper materials to use while we work,” said Devi pourakarmika working in Jaynagar ward, while having her first bite of chapatti. .
The pourakarmikas face problems while segregating dry and wet waste as they do not have basic safety equipment like gloves, masks, boots and brooms to clean the waste.
This situation has been prevalent since many years and as a result many pourakarmikas fall prey to various diseases like malaria, dengue, viral infections, skin allergies and other breathing problems. Pourakarmikas also get cut by glass pieces and other sharp materials due to lack of protective gloves.
“Only last year I suffered from malaria. I was in the hospital for more that 10 days. We get paid on daily basis and I am the only one earning at my place as my husband died three years ago,” said Bhagya Amma.
“We have been protesting for many things since several years. The contract system ended after a struggle and hundreds of protests over more than two decades. Now we don’t know when the working conditions for these pourakarmikas will get better. We are trying for is some basic good working conditions and decent salaries which will help them have a better life,” said Muthyallappa, a BBMP official, who looks after the welfare of the pourakarmikas.
Apart from the equipment, the pourakarmikas work in very poor conditions as well. “We have to reach our gathering spot exactly at 6 a.m. and even if we are just five minutes late, they cut our full day’s salary,” said Bhagya Amma.
The other things that add up to the misery of the pourakarmikas are ill-treatment by the officials, no option of having lunch in hygienic places and frequent pay cuts for no substantive reasons.