The pourakarmikas in Bengaluru continue to use plastic mats, and cardboard to carry street waste as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) withdrew pushcarts about two years back.
In many wards across eight zones in the city, the workers are seen pulling mats filled with dry leaves and other street waste. The waste collected on the carpets is pulled to a designated destination from where the waste collection vehicles lift the same. Although the BBMP has tasked contractors who carry out a door-to-door collection to pick up waste on every street, this has not been implemented on the ground in many places.
Maniamma, a civic worker from Shivajinagar, speaking to The Hindu said, for the past two years, she has been using mats to pull waste in the absence of pushcarts. “It is difficult to work every day without necessary equipment due to which I have been suffering from back pain and chest pain.” In the area where she works, there are about 1,000 houses and the volume of waste dumped on the blackspots is high. Sometimes, it takes long hours to complete the work.
In June 2019, the BBMP called an Expression of Interest (EoI) to purchase one lakh jumbo bags and 2,000 pushcarts. However, according to Nirmala M., President, BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha, this was withdrawn due to some technical issues. In 2019, old pushcarts were not in usable condition due to which the civic workers started the practice of mats and cardboards. There are about 15,000 pourakarmikas working in Bengaluru.
Ms. Nirmala said, “Despite multiple letters written to the BBMP by the association, seeking the supply of equipment, no action was taken. On the other hand, many contractors refuse to collect waste collected by the workers from the streets. The vehicle operators demand the workers to transport waste from multiple streets to one designated place in their area of operation. The civic workers have no option but to continue like this.”
Maitreyi Krishnan of BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha said, “Non-supply of resources is an assault on the dignity of labour of the civic workers. The association has been demanding the BBMP opt for mechanised pushcarts to ease workers’ burden. Neither BBMP is taking action against the contractors who are refusing to lift waste, nor workers are provided with mechanised carts. The workers are facing health issues due to this poor practice.”
A BBMP official said in some areas, bags have been provided to deposit waste and contractors are instructed regularly to deliver their responsibilities. “The BBMP will look into the same and soon will resolve the issue,” said an official.