The moral duty of the local bodies that implement the smart city projects is to ensure that the conservancy workers who work hard to make the city clean are made permanent employees, said Executive Director of People’s Watch Henri Tiphagne.
He was speaking during a conference organised by Madurai Legal Awareness Coordination Committee to discuss the problems faced by conservancy workers in village panchayats.
Mr. Tiphagne said that most of the conservancy workers were engaged as contract workers and were not regularised despite working for several years. He also stressed that the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 was being poorly implemented in the State. On many occasions, the government had violated the Act and employed manual scavengers, he added. He also thanked the contribution of the conservancy workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) District Secretary (urban) R. Vijayarajan said that conservancy workers, who start work from the early morning, are unable to take care of their school going children. Many of their houses are in a deteriorating state, which needs to be addressed, he added.
Sahaya Philomin Raj, who heads Madurai Legal Awareness Coordination Committee, said that these workers faced social stigma and were considered as untouchables. “Although they work hard to keep the city clean, they are considered unclean. Their children also face traumatic experiences, especially at schools, because of the social stigma,” he added.
Conservancy workers from village panchayats of Madurai and Virudhunagar districts participated. District Coordinator of Madurai Legal Awareness Coordination Committee T. Sasikumar had made arrangements for the event.