Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Smart City, Smart Scavengers through Safety, Social Security & Skill Development

Post by Bimal Sahu, former Insurance Commissioner, ESIC, Ministry of Labour.

Recently, newspapers reported the unfortunate and sad news about the death of 4 scavengers of Delhi Muncipal Corporation while cleaning safety tanks in the city. This was preceded by similar occurrence involving scavengers in cities like Chennai and Chandigarh. As per report available through media sources, 39 scavengers have lost their lives while performing the job of cleaning safety tanks etc to keep the cities smart and clean during the last 100 days.

During my interaction with scavengers and their contractors in Bhubaneswar engaged by BMC, they told me that they were neither provided with any safety equipment while cleaning roads and public amenities like toilets nor were they aware of safety equipment like dust protector, ear plugs, helmets, hand gloves or safety jackets. Importantly, they are not aware of any healthcare facilities in case of sickness or accidents and hence, are left to fend for themselves, which probably results in improvisation and less productivity.
In view of the above position, I request you to lead by taking up the following suggestions:-
1) Provision of safety equipment to all scavengers engaged either directly or indirectly through contractors as per their functional requirement and taking the advice of technical officers like safety officer, health officer and institutions like CIF.
2) Training/ Awareness programme to scavengers and their contractors ward wise in the city on safety tips, provision of social security and their skill development, which will ultimately result in more productivity and less absenteeism- a WIN WIN situation for such individuals, families, society and the state as a whole.
3) Importantly, such scavengers should be provided with primary care facilities by attaching them to local, public or private dispensaries/ nursing homes and the expenditure to the effects should be borne by BMC – similar to construction workers vis-a-vis construction welfare board functioning with labour commissioner, Odisha. Such primary care facilities plus attaching them to RSBY for high ended diseases shall greatly relieve scavengers and their families where their medical care is concerned.
4) Towards their social security in the form of cash compensation in case of sickness and accidents/ deaths, they may be covered under Prime Minister Jan Suraksha Scheme – by paying an annual premium of Rs 12 and Rs 330, such scavengers shall be protected for Rs 4 lakh cash benefit in case of accidents and deaths. Again, like construction workers, the premium amount totalling Rs 342 per scavengers per annum should be paid by BMC out of municipal tax or suitable budgetary allotment of urban department/ similar schemes funded by GOI.
5) Like organized factory workers, such scavengers may be provided with an identity card with their photographs. During emergencies, dispensaries/ hospitals  have to contact their local address. Such tag wearing will definitely boost their professional respect for the job as well as by the public.
The above suggestions can be brought under a campaign named “Smart City, Smart Scavengers through safety, social security & skill development”. It would be a privilege if support of DGUV involving awareness and sensitalization programmes is required by BMC for which I am available with you on this campaign.
B K Sahu,
Former Insurance Commissioner, ESIC, Ministry of Labour,
email: focalpointindia.dguv@gmail.com
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