Clad in a green cotton saree, Rama Devi painstakingly collects heaps of garbage accumulated on the roadside and represents the plight of pourakarmikas.
“We work in unhygienic conditions without gloves or masks. All my complaints have fallen on deaf ears. I have requested the authorities to provide drums for garbage time and again but they don’t seem to be bothered at all,” says the 32-year-old pourakarmika as she shifts her attention to the garbage dumped on a street corner at Cox Town.
Rama’s day starts early at 6.30 am. She usually collects garbage from Cox Town circle to the narrow streets near 1st Cross Road. Throughout the day, Rama collects piles of rubbish thrown on the roads in her push cart while traffic whizzes past her.
“Sometimes, it gets quite difficult with unfavourable weather conditions. I have developed skin allergies on my leg. I find it really difficult to walk longer distances. I cannot afford the treatment as I haven’t been paid for the past three months. Every time, I bring this to the notice of my supervisor but I am told that the contractor hasn’t received the bill yet. Some of the residents are kind enough to provide me food and money. That is how I have been surviving so far,” says Rama.
Residents inform us that despite financial troubles, Rama has been collecting garbage till 1 pm without fail everyday. Accentuating on the repercussions of not providing a permanent solution for garbage issues, Rama says, “If I don’t clear the garbage on the roads here, who else will? It is high time the authorities put an end to this issue. The residents suffer the most. With garbage accumulated in every nook and cranny of the city, diseases are on the rise,” she says.