Srinagar: The dearth of manpower in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) is taking a toll on the health of the staff that is deployed for sanitising the city to prevent spread of Covid-19.
“If we do not work, the city will start stinking in only two or three days. Someone has to do the dirty work. Whether it is lockdown or bad weather, our job has to continue, otherwise the garbage will create more problems than the lockdown is meant to solve,” said an SMC sanitation worker.
“We don’t have many workers on the field, so we have to take care of more areas than we are supposed to,” sanitation workers said.
“Before the Covid-19 lockdown, we carried out sanitation of areas by rotation. But now as per the orders we have to do that on daily basis, that too in all the areas. It is impacting our health. We don’t want our families to suffer,” they said.
“We have been provided protection gear but the work is still risky. However, we have to work, We just need more manpower,” they added.
Along with the job of collecting garbage, now the workers have to also spray disinfectants. They go door to door to collect garbage in the morning and after that they spray disinfectants.
The SMC has more than 485 garbage collection sheds and 98 open garbage dumps. About 3,500 workers are tasked with garbage collection and sanitation but the department says that is only half the required manpower. “We are short of 50% employees for sanitation and garbage collection purposes. It means we need 3,500 more employees,” said the workers.
Chief Sanitation Officer, SMC, Syed Nissar agreed that there was shortage of manpower in sanitation department, but added that since the lockdown began, the volume of garbage had come down. “Now about 300 metric tonnes of garbage is produced daily while in normal days 400 to 450 tonnes of garbage was produced,” he said.
“But we still need more workers for sanitation as well as for spraying, although authorities dump garbage at many places which include Achan dumping site” he added.
SMC Commissioner Gazanfar Ali told Kashmir Reader that the work is being outsourced to nearly 300 more men for one year. “We have already floated online tenders for that. Once the process is complete, those additional workers will do the spraying, which will easy the work of our existing staff,” he said.