Chennai: Own homes flooded, but sanitation staff roll up sleeves to clear streets

Despite working for over 12 hours a day, conservancy workers allege they have not been given additional compensation or food.
Workers on duty in Taramani on Saturday | Ashwin Prasath
Workers on duty in Taramani on Saturday | Ashwin Prasath

CHENNAI: Nearly 12,700 conservancy workers engaged in flood relief work are working overtime to clean the city as many of their own homes are flooded.

With sewage water overflowing on streets after Cyclone Michaung, relief is nowhere in sight for such workers.

“While our shift is from 6 am to 2 pm, we are now working until 6 pm. Since the roads are filled with sewage waste, we are finding it difficult to clear them as it requires a lot of physical strength. There is insufficient equipment to clear the waste and we are forced to borrow it from other divisions,” said a woman sanitation worker from Kodambakkam.

Workers say they have not been compensated for the additional hours of work they have put in. The Greater Chennai Corporation has engaged 12,713 sanitation workers, along with 2,337 workers brought in from other districts. Of these, 4,788 workers were assigned to the north zones while 6,473 were assigned to the Central zone and 2,509 to the south zone.

Even though many of the workers’ homes are flooded, they logged 92.3 per cent attendance across the city.
Ironically, waste from the streets some workers stay in is yet to be cleared.

Sumathi (name changed), a resident of Tondiarpet, said, “The amount of garbage that has washed into our streets from other parts of the city is dreadful and requires immediate attention.”

Despite working for over 12 hours a day, workers allege they have not been given additional compensation or food. Another worker, Kripa (name changed), said, “Workers are facing health issues as they are continuously dealing with sewage and filth for four days. Since we work till 6 pm, we asked the supervisors to provide us food in the afternoon, a demand they agreed to only after we threatened to stop work.”

A sanitation worker from Velachery zone said there are mounds of waste in all the streets, which emanates a foul smell. This includes beds spoiled by the floodwaters, green waste and sewage. “Until Thursday, we worked till 8 pm. Now, we go home a bit early. We have no option but to work in this filth,” she said.

Isha Yoga Centre offers medical assistance to flood-affected areas
CHENNAI: As part of Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore’s ‘Isha Outreach’ programme, medical vehicles, doctors, nurses and volunteers have been providing medical assistance to those in flood affected areas, a press release from the centre said. Three medical teams along with three mobile medical vehicles have been offering medical aid in Northern and Southern parts of the city. 

Two die of electrocution
CHENNAI: In two different incidents, a college student and a daily wage worker were electrocuted on Friday evening.  

According to sources, V Priyadharshini (18) of Pinjivakkam village in Kadambathur, switched on a coil heater to boil water when she suffered an electric shock and was thrown away, police said. She was rushed to hospital where she was declared dead.  

In another incident, Sahayaraj of Valavanthangal near Mamallapuram returned home from the Michaung cyclone relief camp died of electrocution when he touched the main door. Police said he and his family were staying at a farm house owned by another person. Due to rain, they had moved to a government school and returned to their house on Friday evening. He was declared dead by the ambulance crew and the body was taken to Chengalpattu Government Hospital for postmortem.

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