BENGALURU: After elected representatives and babus from various corporations, it is the time for pourakarmikas and manual scavengers across the state to visit foreign countries to study waste management. The Department of Social Welfare has come up with a proposal for this novel initiative.
A team of 25 to 30 people, including pourakarmikas and manual scavengers, will be sent to foreign countries to know how the system there works. “We will pick one person from each district to send. In other countries, those who keep the city clean, especially the scavengers, do not die. But here in India, manual scavengers die during their work. Some die due to suffocation,” Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya told Express.
Anjaneya also said manual scavengers normally drink alcohol before going to work. “The bad smell makes them drink, which then becomes a habit. Eventually, they die due to ailments. But this does not happen in other countries. If we send officials, they might study and come back with a report. But the person who is on the ground should know the realities. They need to interact with scavengers of other countries, of course with a mediator,” he said.
About pourakarmikas, he said, “It will also encourage pourakarmikas to do their job. They will feel good that even their views and job are respected,” he said.
The Minister said the Social Welfare Department had sent Dalit artists to an international festival conducted by the North America Vishwa Kannada Association (Navika) and Association of Kannada Kootas of America.
“They will be sent every year hereafter. We are planning to send pourakarmikas and manual scavengers every year. At present, there is a code of conduct and nothing can be decided at the Cabinet. We will do it and this will be included in the State Budget that will be presented in March,” he said.
‘Let Them Give Salary on Time’
When asked about the foreign study tour, Rani (name changed), who works as a pourakarmika on contract basis with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s Vijayanagar sub-division, said that if the Palike wants to do good, it should give salaries on time. “What is the use for us going on a fancy trip if we are then to starve lifelong?” she asked.
He colleague Premila (name changed) said there was no need to learn from other countries.
“We know how to sweep or collect waste. It is the duty of the public to maintain the city clean. We sweep the roads, and within a few minutes they come and throw garbage packets. If we ask them, they in turn say that it is your duty to clean. The mindset has to change,” she said.