A group of sweepers and diggers will be sent on an official trip to Japan and South Korea by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). According to an exclusive Indian Express report, the sweepers will be visiting various waste management facilities, bioenergy plants and garbage and waste offices in the two countries to get an idea about how cleanliness can be maintained in thickly populated cities.
NDMC chairman Naresh Kumar told IE, "We took the decision to boost their morale. They must know how cities abroad are maintained by ground-level staff.”
The ten-member team which will go on the week-long trip starting 22 November, comprises 'four safai karmcharis (sweepers) three beldars (diggers), one sanitary inspector, one junior engineer and a director-rank officer'.
It will be a first of a kind trip sponsored by the government. Officials in the MEA expressed their surprise at the decision to approve this trip. "I’m seeing such a proposal to send ground-level staff for the first time — otherwise most foreign trips are taken by senior officials," a MEA official told IE.
While the MEA should be lauded for this attempt to empower ground level workers, they should also perhaps pay heed to the sordid conditions some of them are forced to live and work in.
A documentary film called 'Mann Swachh Toh Desh Swachh', made by Varun Babu and Anagh Pradhan, turned the spotlight on India's sanitation workers who are reeling under lack of amenities and protection in their jobs.
The filmmakers spoke to Pariah Koddhe, a sanitation worker in Maharashtra, who is shown collecting dirt and filth with just cut pieces of cardboard from roadside drains. She says that she earns around Rs 5000-6000, for collecting waste manually, often with bare hands. Koddhe speaks for thousands of sanitation workers across India who work under shoddy conditions with unsophisticated equipment at times.
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