More than 17,000 Pourakarmikas (Sweepers) are protesting to pay their pending salaries. The Pourakarmikas are to be paid 8 months salary and some of them even more.
Repeated protests, representations to the Mayor, Ministers and even the Chief Minister have not yielded results. 1 Pourakarmika is allotted for a population of 700 in Bengaluru city. The salary of Pourakarmikas – most of them working on contract basis – working in worst conditions without any safety equipment such as gloves, mask is due from December 2017.
Joint Commissioner (Health and Solid Waste Management) Sarfaraz Khan acknowledged the fact of the non payment of salaries to Pourakarmikas. Their request for gum boots, gloves, uniforms and advanced push carts has not been granted from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) who is their principal employer.
Lakshmi Devi. Uma, Shobha, Kondamma clean the streets in Indira Nagar, Bengaluru. They have not been paid salaries for six months. They've pawned off their jewellery, sold their utensils just so that they can continue paying rent. #PayPourakarmikas pic.twitter.com/5fn4bUyjB2
— Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) July 9, 2018
Contractor lobby behind non payment of salaries?
The BBMP had earlier promised direct salary payments to the Pourakarmikas based on Biometric attendance. However, sources say that this is not fool proof and can be easily tampered with. The contractor lobby which would lose its stronghold, if BBMP goes ahead with direct payments to their accounts is against the introduction of Biometric system.
Although, the BBMP had warned to register FIR against those impersonating in the pay rolls, the issue persists says a Pourakarmika who is working on contract basis for the past 6 years in Banaswadi.
How did vested interests/Contractors/BBMP officials make money prior to the introduction of Biometric ?
A source who wish to be unidentified said “Previously (before the introduction of Biometric) the number of Pourakarmikas as per official records showed as 34,000; now, after the introduction of biometric it is showing 17,000. The officials used to release money in quick time when the numbers showed inflated figures than those actually working, now since the Biometric and vigilance by BBMP has weeded out impersonators on the rolls, the payment is being delayed, said the person. This is nothing but a commission lobby between contractors and officials, he said while requesting for anonymity”.
Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, acknowledged that the BBMP would save 250 crores a year after the introduction of bio-metric system for pourakarmikas.
The Pourakarmikas are now pledging their jewellery, house hold items and borrowing money at high rates of interest to keep their families afloat. Unable to meet the ends and under severe stress, T Subramani committed suicide ringing alarm bells for the BBMP and the State Government.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy – who said that his government is pro-poor has to now act immediately and release the salaries of Pourakarmikas and take severe action to curb the Contractor lobby behind this impasse.
SatyaVijayi had reported about a minister who is travelling 350 kms every day, quoting the reason that the government is yet to allot a home officially. The fuel is paid by the Government and it is said that his personal Astrologer had told him not to sleep in his home at Bengaluru which could make him lose power. CM – HD Kumaraswamy who said he will practice ‘austerity’ needs to crack the whip and pay salaries to the Pourakramikas and censure his brother to shed his belief in Astrology at the expense of state exchequer.