Pourakarmikas and other waste management-related workers are of utmost importance in keeping the city clean. But it is often in Bengaluru that these workers are forced to work without pay for months.
After many years of sporadic pay and exploitation by contractors, these workers were finally brought under the BBMP payroll by the state government in 2018.
But this change hasn’t made much of a difference to many of the workers.
At least 300 workers from the Hagadooru and Bellandur wards of Mahadevapura zone alone have been left unpaid since January and in some cases since November by the BBMP.
To protest against this bureaucratic apathy, some residents of the area went to BBMP’s Mahadevapura Zonal office on Thursday
“The dry waste operator goes and submits the bills and then they clear their salaries. But for this, the BBMP official makes them go 15-20 times to clear their salaries for one quarter. None of the pourakarmikas have been paid in more than three months. Over the years, the BBMP has bee increasing its budget allocated to solid waste management. Yet, these pourakarmikas are not even provided the basic amenities such as gloves. Where is our tax money going” one of the protesters asked.
Experts who wish to remain anonymous, however, claim that the money allocated to solid waste management by the BBMP is insufficient. Besides this, there are also irregularities and lack of transsparency in handing out contracts to these workers, they say. These experts are also sceptical about the BBMP’s efficiency in monitoring the work carried out by private contractors and checking if they have fudged data.
Mythreyi, a lawyer at the Karnataka High Court who champions the cause of these workers said,“In several wards, the payment is promised to be made next week since January. We have seen a lot of efforts by vested interests who try to create these discrepancies.,” she said.
“With these workers coming under the BBMP payroll, the civic body will save a lot of money. However, BBMP’s implementation of this direct payment is questionable. The Joint Commissioners of the zones are accountable,” she added.
When TNM tried to contact the Mahadevapura JC, there was no response.
However, BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad denied that this was a pressing problem and said that it was only those workers whose details are yet to incorporated into the payroll who are facing an issue. He assured that this will be sorted soon.