Sanitation workers battle COVID-19 sans PPE kits

New Delhi: The apathy and triviality of municipal authorities in providing safety equipments to sanitation workers to fight against COVID-19 has forced them to risk their lives everyday.

In the absence of protective equipments, these workers have become very vulnerable to catch infection. The employees working with civic agencies in the National Capital have alleged that the 'intentional' negligence has resulted in devastating impacts as many of them have already tested positive and more than 50 have been sent in home quarantine.

"Condition of sanitation workers or better known as Corona warriors these days is pathetic as they are not getting adequate safety equipments. The worst-affected are cash strapped North and East Corporations where majority employees have been forced to use and reuse gloves, masks and other equipments and even many of them have not been provided these items yet.

The condition is that majority of sanitation staff here have been using gloves and masks which have no worth at all. Since South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) is financially strong, it has been meeting a standard criterion," said Sanjay Gehlot, state president, Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Sanghathan.

"More than 67,000 sanitation workers employed in all three municipalities out of which 17,000 are in East MCD, 26,000 are in North MCD and remaining are in South MCD. Among these workers, majority are either daily wagers or substitutes as there are no provisions for recruitment of permanent staff.

The first two categories get remuneration based on daily wage norms. Since North Corporation has not released salary of March, these two types of sanitation workers are facing hardships during the lockdown days," he said.

An employee of North Corporation said that the corporation is putting their lives at risk by deploying them in Corona affected areas. "We are facing many problems altogether as there is no transport facility and many of us have to travel 8 to 10 kilometers to reach our respective wards. The situation is very difficult for women employee as they cannot cover such long distance on foot," he said.

It may be noted that an assistant sanitary inspector from the North Corporation and two sanitation workers from the South Delhi civic body have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said on Friday. Again on Saturday, a nurse at Hindu Rao Hospital tested positive for Coronavirus, following which the facility was closed down.

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