BENGALURU: For the past 13 years, life revolved around manholes and pipelines for K Lakshmaiah from Anekal taluk. But on Tuesday morning, this man in his mid-40s will be flying to Singapore along with 38 pourakarmikas for an educational tour, sponsored by the state government.
Clad in a white shirt and white trousers, shiny black shoes and flaunting his wrist watch, Lakshmaiah is elated. Speaking to Express he said, “A few years ago, I was working as a coolie. One day my friend asked me to join him to clean a manhole. Since then, I have been doing this job.” For his trip, he has already bought a few colourful shirts and trousers to wear.
For M Krishnappa, who has rarely stepped outside Jigani, his village in Anekal taluk, or taken a train even, the flight to Singapore is a huge leap. “I want to buy a watch for myself and some clothes for family,” he said.Another pourakarmika, who did not wish to reveal his identity, said, “A few days ago we were walking with gunny bags, collecting garbage. Today, we will be taking trolley suitcases.”
Of the 39 pourakarmikas, only four are women; Yellavva is from Sindagi, Vijayapura. It’s her second visit to Bengaluru. “I am eagerly waiting to travel in an aeroplane. I plan to buy toys for my grandchildren,” she said.Susheelamma from Chitradurga city corporation too has never boarded a train.
“I am very excited and nervous. We are going to see a clean city. We should strive to achieve that kind of cleanliness here also,” she said.
Muncipal Administration Minister Eshwar Khandre said they plan to take at least 1,000 pourakarmikas to foreign countries like Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan and others in the next few months. “We are spending Rs 75,000 per head, including Rs 5,000 for shopping. We have allocated Rs 8 crore for this in the budget. We are the only state to send pourakarmikas abroad. We are sending an all- women team in a later batch,” he added.
According to Dr R Vishal, Director, Department of Muncipal Administration, they had set a few criteria to select pourakarmikas for the trip. They should be permanent workers, aged between 40 and 50 years. They must have leadership skills, in order to be able to communicate to fellow-workers in Singapore. “Even if we train around 5,000 people in the next five years, it can make a difference,” he said.
11 am, July 25: Flight from Kempegowda airport to Singapore
July 26: Visit to World Toilet Organisation office where there will be orientation/ presen tation on Solid waste management in Singapore. Evening: Visit to Little India, Arab Street, Lavender street to see the road cleaning activities. Shopping in Little India
July 27: Field visit to Solid waste management unit. Evening: Visit to Gardens and other places
July 28: Observing methods of SWM in housing development board, later half day city tour