Negligence of the State government regarding the impact on Safaikarmacharis of the frighteningly infactious COVID-19 disease and the lockdown announced by the government!
Safaikarmacharis/pourakarmikas daily clean the streets, open sewers, human unirine and excreta in community and public toilets and dispose off dead animals under various types of Urban Local Bodies and Gram panchayats in the State of Karnataka. Infectious diseases like COVID-19 can quickly spread among those engaged in such unclean occupations is fact known to everyone. But is it enough to just thank people engaged in these occupation by clapping and beating utensils? Can this prevent spread of infection among people engaged in these occupations? Those who have always practice untouchability against pourakarmikas, don’t even offer a glass of drinking water, don’t even give basic respect to them, can they just clap for 5 minutes and do away with casteism, indignity and inhumanity of decades? Shouldn’t those giving such noble advice introspect?
During the announcement of a economic package by the Union Finance Minister yesterday in the context of the Corona Lock-down, should have at least shown minimal care and respect towards safaikarmacharis working in urban and rural areas, by announcing specific measures especially for them, but she didn’t announce any such specific measures. Additionally, the Circular issued by the Director, DMA (Directorate of Municipal Administration) ಖ್ಯೆ:ಘೌನಿ/೩೫/ಘವನ/೨೦೧೯-೨೦ dated: 19.೦3.2020 is just an eye-wash. It is a well-known fact that DMA officials have been always treated pourakarmikas with discrimination, but in such emergency situation at least they should have shown some concern towards pourakarmikas belonging to Dalit communities.
Steps to be taken immediately:
Workers with age over 50 years should be exempted from work and allowed to avail of paid leave.
- Additional Transport allowance of minimum Rs 300/- per day should be given to all pourakarmikas.
- Provide all necessary protective equipment (such as mask, gumboot, glasses, front body closure, hand sanitizer, soap, etc.) to protect the health of the workers.
- If any pourakarmika of any urban or rural part of the state is found to be infected by Corona virus, then the concerned officials should be held responsible and punishment should be given as per law.
- Pourakarmikas should be harassed and forced to do unclean jobs.
- Monthly salaries should be paid regularly.
- Till the lock-down ends, the timings of the work should be limited to 6:30 am -10:30 (as per the rules adopted by the BBMP)
- Proper screening and treatment should be initiated immediately for the depennts of pourakarmikas.
- Any pourakarmika showing any illness should be promptly screened and sent on leave with pay.
- Officers must themselves take action to ensure that there is adequate food security in the homes of pourakarmikas
- The medicines used by the pourakarmikas on a daily basis should be supplied by the department.
- Ensure clean drinking water, sanitation and cleanliness in residential areas of pourakarmikas.
- All basic amenities including drinking water, toilets, bath soap etc. should be made available at the workplaces of pourakarmikas.
We urge local authorities to take all these necessary steps without delay.
Dr. K. B. Obalesha, Ramachandra and Padma. M.
State Conveners and members of the State Monitoring Committee, PEMSR Act 2013, Karnataka