Karnataka CM Yediyurappa distributes new uniforms, protective equipments to sanitation workers on Ambedkar Jayanti

While workers collecting wet waste will get green colour uniforms, dry waste collectors will be provided blue and sweepers will now wear a rust-brown uniform.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa Wednesday distributed safety vests, new uniforms and equipment to sanitation workers of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in front of the B R Ambedkar’s statue in Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha as part of an event to commemorate the late leader’s 130th birth anniversary.

This was a long-standing demand of sanitation workers, widely known as BBMP ‘pourakarmikas’, to get proper protective equipment. The sanitation workers will wear the new uniforms which are colour-coded based on their nature of work. While workers collecting wet waste will get green colour uniforms, dry waste collectors will be provided blue and sweepers will now wear a rust-brown uniform.

Procured from the Karnataka Department of Handlooms and Textiles at an estimated cost of Rs 9.34 crore, 13,562 sets comprising two aprons, two sarees, a sweater, a cap, and two pairs of hand gloves and facemasks have been ordered for female pourakarmikas. Their male counterparts will get the same set (4726 in total) of items except for track pants instead of sarees.

According to BBMP officials, supervisors would get a set that includes a blazer, two denim pants, and a cap (667 sets in total) while each 173 male junior health inspector would get two safari suits and a cap each. Each female junior health inspector (50 in total) is expected to get two safari coats, two salwar suits and a cap each.

Further, a senior BBMP official told indianexpress.com that the state government allocated Rs 7.8 crore towards the municipal body to cover these costs. “BBMP will spend the remaining Rs 1.5 crore to procure these items,” the official said.

When asked when the items will be distributed, the official explained, “We will distribute these to pourakarmikas at a zonal-level within a week while the same for other officers will be made available within two months.”

Meanwhile, Srinivas Alavilli, Head of Civic Participation at Janaagraha, a non-profit organisation working on urban governance issues, said the civic body should also ensure that representatives of sanitation workers are included in ward committee meetings across the city.

“Pourakarmikas are our frontline warriors and we should take all measures to ensure that they work in a conducive and risk-free environment. While this is a welcome move, BBMP should also begin providing them more resting places, toilets, and changing rooms soon,” he said.

Alavilli further said that colour-coded uniforms would work better in conveying the message of waste-segregation better among the citizens.

Nalini Shekar of Hasiru Dala, a voluntary organisation that works closely with waste-pickers, felt the government’s move to provide new uniforms to the pourakarmikas would “bring about a sense of integrity” among them. “While two sets of uniform for each sanitation worker would suffice for a year, gloves and masks should be replaced more frequently,” she told Indianexpress.com.

Shekar said the BBMP should also provide training for behavioural change among the workers. “With new equipment provided to them, the authorities should ensure they are being used as prescribed. A behavourial training at a decentralised level would be more appropriate to bridge such gaps,” she said.

At the same time, the BBMP has procured 55,000 brooms made from coconut leaves from the Karnataka State Coir Development Corporation after spending Rs 40 lakhs.

A total of 18,378 pourakarmikas — including workers on daily wages — are part of BBMP’s force that takes care of solid waste management and cleanliness of Bengaluru city.

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