A section of the local bodies in Ernakulam has not yet complied with a directive issued by the Local Self-Government Department to provide adequate safety gear to Harithakarma Sena volunteers involved in the collection of non-biodegradable waste from households and commercial establishments.
Sixteen local bodies in the district were found to be lagging behind in providing personal protection equipment to green volunteers, according to an assessment by officials of the department. However, the majority of these local bodies claimed that they had not provided the gear as Harithakarma Sena members were yet to resume doorstep collection of waste materials after the second wave of the pandemic.
An order issued by the department had asked the secretaries of local bodies to provide N95 masks, good quality hand gloves, face shields and sanitisers to green volunteers. The local bodies have to provide training to those involved in the doorstep collection of waste on COVID protocol. They need to be provided with at least three pairs of uniform.
The uniform set used on a day should not be worn again the next day. It should be washed properly to avoid any chances of infection. Harithakarma Sena volunteers have to ensure physical distancing while on work. They should avoid having food from outside as far as possible. Volunteers have to carry drinking water and it must not be shared with others. Special care should be taken while removing masks to have food and water, according to the directive.
The assessment revealed that Kothamangalam municipality and Mulanthuruthy panchayat were among the local bodies that had not provided safety gear after resuming the waste collection process recently.
Mariamma Benny, chairperson of the Mulanthuruthy panchayat, said Harithakarma Sena members have not yet started the collection of waste after the second wave of COVID-19. The capacity of the material collection facility installed near the panchayat office had reached its peak as the waste materials collected before the onset of the second wave have not been cleared yet, she said.
Officials at the Kothamangalam municipality said that they have provided N95 masks, gloves and face shields to the volunteers. “We could not provide the three sets of uniform as the stitching centres are remaining closed owing to the lockdown,” they said.