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Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Workers' Exposed to Toxic Waste
Debby A | 30 Mar 2007

Garbage workers are humans too!
'Keep city clean’ is the slogan that one sees in every nook and corner of a city. But why this apathy towards those who actually help keep city clean? Why does the government overlook the basic necessities of the garbage workers?
 
Bangalore, March 30, 2007: Worm infestation, scabies, respiratory tract infection and hepatitis B, to name a few, are diseases that inflict people who collect garbage for a living, said Dr. P S Ranganathan, who runs a private clinic in Millers Road.
 
People working in Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) hygiene division to collect household waste are at health risk due to poor working conditions. According to departmental policy, BMP hires contractual workers to do the cleaning job. The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, says that labourers should be given immunity from harm while doing their job. In case of garbage management, protective clothing and gears such as rubber gloves, coats and boots should be given.    
 
 “I had asked for clean shoes, but my manager did not issue any. I can be infected anytime,” said Rangachari Anand. He goes inside drains to shove out clogged solid wastes. “I had been suffering from an infection in my feet last month, and have spent Rs 1200 on medical treatment,” he said.
 
There are three garbage collection points at City market, which is just next to BMP’s head office. Shopkeepers say that trucks come every other week to clear the accumulated pile. “The men who come in them are badly exposed to the garbage,” said V Lakshmanan, who owns a shop in front of one collection point.
 
But BMP asserted that they take care of their workers even if they are not on their regular payroll, such as most of the garbage collectors. “To those who go inside manholes, we give them shoes and face mask. The rest we give according to their needs. It is the job of respective ward officers to look after workers safety,” said M.P.Baligar, Deputy Commissioner (Health).
 
BMP must take note of people like Rangachari Anand – a labourer – who has spent Rs 1200 from his own pocket for medical treatment.