Taking cognisance of complaints of lack of salary disbursements or any protective gear for gravediggers and assistants in electric crematoria run by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Karnataka State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes held a meeting at the Kalpalli graveyard on Friday.
Commission member H. Venkatesha Dodderi, accompanied by senior BBMP officials, visited the houses of the gravediggers who live on the premises.
After receiving a memorandum from the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Dalitha Sangharsha Samithi, Mr. Dodderi directed BBMP officials to ensure that workers get their pending salaries in two days and protective gear immediately.
Mr. Dodderi told The Hindu that as per BBMP records, 265 workers were working in 62 graveyards and electric crematoria.
“Salaries have been disbursed to 149 workers. The remaining 116 will also get their salaries shortly,” he said and added that one of the major demands of the gravediggers was direct employment by the BBMP and regularisation of their services.
There are many families who have been gravediggers for more than two or three generations. BBMP officials have been directed to rehabilitate the gravediggers living in graveyards and ensure that benefits of housing schemes are extended to them. “Officials have been directed to immediately provide toilet and bathroom facilities in all graveyards and electric crematoria. We have also recommended that children of gravediggers and assistants be admitted in residential schools, apart from being treated on a par with safai karmacharis. However, a policy decision is needed for the same,” he said.