Kurnool: While many of the elite women of Kurnool, including wives of IPS and IAS officers, spoke on gender equality and women empowerment on Women’s Day, a woman manual scavenger was seen going about her work, without compla-ints on Friday.
Kurnool municipal commissioner P. Prashanti eulogised women as emb-odiments of Shakti in all forms at a meeting held at Sunayana Auditorium. But in her department, around 70 women manual scavengers are allegedly being exploited by unscrupulous contractors, without their wages being released on time.
Peramma, a woman manual scavenger, said that she had to do this work to eke out a living. On her work, she said, “It is the most nauseating thing to do. Yet, it is the only work I know to survive”.
She said that she gets a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,500. “The contractor gives us disinfectants such as phenyl, bleaching powder etc,” she said.
She said that since the past six months, the contractor has not been paying them. “We have represented this to the municipal authorities, but there was no response,” she said.
It has been learnt that out of 70 public toilets, 60 were cornered by local MLA S.V. Mohan Reddy's followers. These contractors are not all concerned about paying wages to these manual scavengers.
Gurram Raju, president of Safayikari Association said that in 2013, the ‘Prohibition of employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act’ came into force. The Act states that no person shall be engaged for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.
Any person engaged to clean a sewer has to be provided with safety body clothing, hand gloves etc. It also entails a local authority to ensure that the latest safety equipment and technology are used for cleaning sewers and septic tanks.
He said that in 1993, the district magistrate had the power to solve all the cases, but that is not the case now.
If the assigned public official isn't doing his duty of identifying manual scavengers and processing their rehabilitation, there is no mechanism to pull them up.
When contacted, the municipal authorities said that they were not answerable about this as the service has been outsourced....