‘Civic workers should eat where it stinks’: Official’s remark starts protest

The erring official apologized after pourakarmikas protested against this offensive declaration, and the agitation was dismissed. The struggles experienced by the Pourakarmikas of Bengaluru seem to never end. In the latest demonstration of callousness towards civic employees, Harshavardhan P N official’s Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) had an appalling concept to’ sensitize’ pourakarmikas to the poor odor emanating from trash near Vengayyana lake–to force them to eat there.

Pourakarmikas gathered near the KR Market of Bengaluru to protest against this offensive remark. The offending official apologized after the protest. “The protest was dismissed and a press release with further information of the actions made will be sent in the afternoon,” said lawyer activist Lekha Adavi.

The officer of the IFS had indicated that pourakarmikas working at Vengayyana Lake would be allowed to eat dinner near the entrance to “sensitize them about the poor smell of the trash in the region.” Ironically, he proposed this to “make them realize their obligation to maintain the environment clean and clear the trash.” The policeman indicated that females who sort wet and dry waste by hand would be allowed to consume dinner near the stench-filled region next to the trash reasoning that this would make them more likely to maintain the area clean. By the way, segregation should not be the task of Pourakarmikas–it should be performed at source, at home level. These civic workers, however, are forced to segregate our garbage, as we don’t bother.

Following this offensive and condescending remark, several pourakarmikas went to protest at KR Puram on Tuesday along with representatives of the All India Central Trade Union Council (AICCTU).

“What are you going to say to me? They treat us poorly and we are suffering a great deal. We’re not asking for much, just to be handled with some regard, “said Maheshwaramma, a 55-year-old citizen worker.

The pourakarmikas go through garbage brought in by the truck load every morning from nearby areas to segregate the waste. They have to endure gruelling conditions along with the foul odours as part of their work. Earlier too, pourakarmikas had protested for months as they had not been paid salaries for months. After this, they were regularised by the BBMP in July 2017 as a result of the state government’s intervention.

However, with casteist statements and crude remarks such as these being casually made by government officials themselves, it is clear that the rights of these workers are still under threat. The AICCTU has condemned the official’s remarks.

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