GHMC spikes sweeper contracts

HYDERABAD: The street outside your home is likely to remain unswept in the days ahead with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation\'s (GHMC\'s) sweeper contractors going on strike. Worse, th

Published: 14th January 2012 03:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:14 PM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: The street outside your home is likely to remain unswept in the days ahead with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation's (GHMC's) sweeper contractors going on strike. Worse, the city's unique outsourced street sweeping system is likely to come unhinged as a result of the civic body's decision to do away with the contractors altogether and engage selfhelp groups for the purpose.

The GHMC's sanitation gangs are on strike, allegedly at the behest of private contractors, who are being pressed by the civic utiliity to pay the sweeper's decent wages. With the contractors unwilling to do so, the corporation has decided to terminate their services and enlisting selfhelp groups (SHGs) for the task.

The GHMC is willing to give a sweeping contract to any group of seven women who come together in an SHG. It will pay each sanitation worker `6,700 per month plus EPF and ESI contributions amounting to `1,000 per month.

GHMC special commissioner Navin Mittal said SHGs wanting the work must register with the GHMC and will be given a contract immediately. Group and bank accounts will be opened once the units are registered and salaries remitted directly into the members' accounts.

The corporation sees this as an improvement over the present system, in which contractors pay the sweepers only Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per month. The system will save Rs 50 crore for the GHMC: Rs 20 crore by way of not having to pay service tax and Rs 30 crore in contractor commissions. The corporation currently spends Rs 200 crore annually on sanitation, Mittal said.

All current sanitation contracts will lapse on March 31. Mittal said not work will be given to contractors after that.

Contractors in GHMC circles 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 18 have gone on after the corporation insisted they open bank accounts for the 20,000 sanitation staff they employ. The contractors are also demanding an hike in commission from 5 percent to 15 percent. Mittal said the contractors are against opening bank accounts for their workers because it would make it clear what exactly they are paying the sweepers. At present, he said, they are being paid a pittance.

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