POSTED ON NOVEMBER 22, 2021
A civil rights group Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) survey of temporary sewer workers working under contract in many areas of Delhi has found that contractors pay wages to the sewer worker only for four months, even though their tender is for six months. Worse, the contractors deduct 25-35% from the wages before giving these to the workers.
A DASAM report following the survey, forwarded to Counterview as email alert, said, “The contractor neither gives weekly off nor gives any holiday on government holidays. If he does not go to work on holidays or on medical emergencies, then money is deducted from the monthly/daily wages.”
It added, “Diseases related to sewer cleaning are long-term and fatal, which comes under the category of occupational health disease. But due to non- availability of facility of insurance, Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF) to the sewer workers, they get deprived of it.”
According to the report, “The pressure of the contractors is so much that the sewer worker is not able to speak openly to neither the government nor any organization”, adding, “They do not get any kind of safety gears, soap, oil, etc. They neither have any kind of identity card nor work permit.”
Pointing out that “there is caste discrimination with them at work place”, the report quotes a Gujarat High Court had given an interim order dated February 15, 2006, which directed the civic bodies to discontinue the practice of engaging contractors, provide all safety equipment such as oxygen mask, helmet, goggles, gumboots, air blower, safety belt, torch, etc., insisting, the employers should be held “vicariously liable” to pay damages in case of occupational diseases.
“Unfortunately, even after 15 years of the passing of this order, the sewer workers have to plead with the Delhi government for its implementation”, DASAM said, adding, it has “taken up these matters to the 10 MLA of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and also given them some questions which they can raise in the House.”
According to the report, “It should be known that the Delhi government manages thousands of crores rupees out of fund allotted for the development of Dalits for contracts.” However, it regretted, despite efforts to get details of contracts awarded with this money under the Right to Information (RTI), “even after a lapse of four months, no satisfactory reply has been received.”
In Delhi sewer work was previously done by government, for which permanent employees were appointed
“The irony is that neither the lower-level employees of the Delhi Jal Board are answering the RTI nor the higher officials are presenting their arguments before the Delhi Safai Karamcharis Commission”, even though “DASAM and other social organizations want to cooperate government in implement of the government schemes.”
Previously, according to DASAM, “In Delhi, the sewer work was done by the government itself, for which permanent employees were appointed”, and despite the court order to continue this process, this has not been done.
In all DASAM said, it has held three meetings with the Delhi Jal Board and the Chairman of the Delhi Safai Karamcharis Commission relating to the hearing under the RTI Act. They resulted in the postponement of the tender in which there was a system for the rehabilitation of the family members of the deceased and injured sewer workers on priority.
Following the meetings, the government “accepted the pending demand related to the revised wages of the sweepers in the Delhi government at an accelerated pace on October 6, 2021 through Officer Order No 6.
Note: This news piece was originally published in the counterview.net and use purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights objectives