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Sanitation Workers Suffer Due To Inadequate Gear; Over 2400 Died Before Reaching Retirement In Last Five Years

"We are given masks and gloves only when there is an inspection by senior officials," said a sanitation worker.

As per the data provided by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD), about 2403 sanitation workers died before reaching the age of retirement, which is set at 60, in the last five years, reported The Indian Express.

Around 1,181 deaths occurred in the North corporation whereas, a total of 877 deaths occurred in the South wing of the municipality. In the East body, 345 such deaths were registered. 

A senior East body official told IE, “These deaths cannot be attributed directly to working conditions as the reason varies from physical ailments to living condition and drinking habits. We cannot deny that the number is unusually high… sanitation workers function in tough conditions… Some don’t give their correct age, which could explain the high number of deaths before retirement.”

The families of sanitation workers also complain about inadequate compensation.

Anju, whose husband Manoj Kumar died at 34, said, “He died of kidney failure… We spent lakhs on his treatment, mortgaging our house to meet medical expenses..Till date, the corporation has failed to give cashless medical cards to safai karamcharis. Many have not been given basic gear such as gloves and gum boots.”

These issues were raised in the Delhi High Court in May this year by Abhishek Dutt, leader of Congress in the South corporation.

The court had then asked the civic bodies to submit a detailed report on the equipment used by sanitation workers, the infections and injuries faced by them and welfare schemes formulated for these workers, by September 19.

However, a senior corporation official said that the workers are provided with all the necessary gear, but the workers choose not to wear them. “The corporation is not averse to fulfilling demands for better health services and medical cashless facility… Our financial condition does not allow us to do so,” he told IE.

Amitabh, son of a deceased sanitation worker said, “My father and two uncles, employed as sanitation workers, died before reaching 60. My father always complained of chest pain.”

“We are given masks and gloves only when there is an inspection by senior officials. Otherwise, no one cares,” said Amitabh’s mother, who is now a sanitation worker.

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