After a protest led by CITU leaders, the municipal corporation assured financial assistance, a house and a job to Ganesh’s family.

CITU leaders and sanitation workers protesting at the Government hospital By special arrangement
news Death Tuesday, January 17, 2023 - 17:18

Ganesh, a 35-year-old sanitation worker employed on a contract basis by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), died on Monday, January 16, after he succumbed to injuries sustained at work, following a week of treatment at the city's Government General Hospital. On January 10, Ganesh went to work early in the morning at the Netaji Bridge near Veterinary Hospital. He was hit by a vehicle around 5.45 am and was admitted to the Government hospital. The incident took place at a time when the state was experiencing cold weather and severe fog during the nights and early mornings.

Following Ganesh’s death, leaders of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the trade union wing affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) protested outside the mortuary of Vijayawada Government Hospital, demanding a compensation of Rs 25 lakh, a house, and a job for the worker's family. Ch Babu Rao, Communist Party of India State Secretariat member told TNM that the death of Ganesh was not an isolated incident and that several such incidents have occurred in the past. “At least 15 people have died in accidents caused at work in the last two years in Vijayawada alone. We demand to provide Rs 25 lakh accident insurance to all sanitation workers,” he said.

Ganesh belonged to the Relli community (Scheduled Caste), considered to be one of the most marginalised communities among the Dalits. He is survived by his wife and two adolescent children. Manual scavenging is a common practice in India, where government statistics show that in the previous five years, at least 347 people have died while cleaning septic tanks and sewers.

Read: These families lost kin to manual scavenging decade ago, but no sign of compensation

After two hours of agitation, the authorities promised the family Rs 5 lakh in immediate financial assistance and another Rs 5 lakh after a council resolution. Municipal In-charge Commissioner Shakuntala, Chief Medical Officer Ratnavali, Health Officer Iqbal, and others met with the leaders and promised Ganesh's family a house and a job, in addition to financial assistance.

“Six months ago, a woman sanitation worker died near Kanakadurga temple while at work. She was hit by a vehicle like Ganesh and her family was given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh. This cannot be repeated. The workers should be provided safety while at work,” Babu Rao said. 

He stated that simply blocking the section of the road being cleaned by workers with barriers and one or two people signalling the vehicles could go a long way. Additionally, he said that the timings should be adjusted according to the season, as fog and rain could impair driver visibility.

Vijayawada is a city with many goods vehicles passing each day as it acts as a transit point to several districts in the state.

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