GUWAHATI, Oct 1 - On October 2, 2014, Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission saying �A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019.�
The programme has met with some success, but the safai karmacharis of Guwahati Municipal Corporation still remain left out. They face a bleak future in respect of job and shelter.
Of the over 900 cleaning workers of GMC, 30 per cent are permanent employees. The rest work on daily wage basis. A regularised employee labourer gets Rs 11,000-Rs 12,000 per month and a daily wage labour get Rs 260 per day. Each of them works from 6 am to 1 pm.
According to GMC officials, the cleaning workers include sweepers, hand carters and drain labourers. The number of sweepers and hand carters is around 350 each and the number of drain labourers is around 230. Every NGO engaged by GMC for door-to-door garbage collection has six/seven people as workers and they get wages as per the Labour Act.
�The condition of daily wage labourers is pathetic. There is no provision of holiday or medical leave for them. To regularise them we had sent a revised staffing pattern to the State Govt two years back. But the proposal is still pending,� a senior GMC official told The Assam Tribune.
The official also pointed out that as per rule of the Central government the ratio should be one cleaning worker against 700 individuals. �Going by that rule, Guwahati should have around 1,800 workers. Manpower crunch has brought failure to the Swacch Bharat Mission in the city to a certain extent,� he said. But in a welcome development, GMC started provident fund facilities for these workers last month.
Around 40 pc of the cleaning workers are women and they are deprived of paid maternity leave and proper facilities to remain clean during the menstrual cycle.
�In Guwahati only 700 cleaning workers have their own houses. Others live on railway land and often face eviction, while some others reside under flyovers and near bus stands,� Chandan Sarma, convenor of Guwahati Municipal Karmi Sangha said. He said in the 1990s there were over 4,000 cleaning workers and now the number has fallen drastically.