BANGALORE: Although the High Court of Karnataka has directed that human scavenging be done away with across the state and a mechanised system be put in place, pourakarmikas (civic workers) are not too happy. They fear that this may result in their getting unemployed, as they have been working thus for the past several decades and have no knowledge of any other kinds of vocations.
One such civic worker, Narasappa, told Express: “Manholes in our country are very small and machines cannot be made to work on them effectively; ultimately, someone has to get down and work. Right now, we are working on a contract basis. If the government is insistent on introducing mechanised cleaning, we must be provided alternative jobs.”
However, former Mysore mayor and state president of Pourakarmikara Sangha Narayana said, “Every year, 8 to 9 people die while cleaning septic tanks because authorities are not providing them with proper protective gear and cleaning equipment. Mechanising scavenging is good, but it should not lead to unemployment.”
The machines, which were introduced in Mysore long ago, can do only a portion of the work, Narayana said. “There are still 130 scavengers in Mysore, who work in places out of reach of the machines, and thereby contract diseases,” he added.
He said the government spends little on the welfare of the pourakarmikas.