The state president of Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Sangh (ABSMS) Vishal Birla alleged that amid the threat of novel Coronovirus (COVID-19), sanitation workers are not being provided with proper equipment and are being lodged in cramped conditions by Municipal Corporation of Dehradun (MCD). On the other hand, the chief municipal health officer Dr Kailash Joshi denied this allegation, stating that every sanitation worker is provided with all the necessary items.
In spite of the threat of COVID-19, the sanitation workers are still operating to maintain the hygiene in public areas. However, the sanitation workers are reportedly not being provided with the proper equipment for their own safety. According to the Birla, "While the government officers are wearing the N95 masks just to work in offices, the sanitation workers are given the cheapest masks with the life of four to six hours which they have to use for many days.”
However, Dr Joshi stated that all the sanitation workers have been given all the necessary equipment like masks, gloves and sanitisers for their safety with instructions to regularly wash their hands properly after their work is done. Furthermore, Birla also averred that the MCD has deployed sanitation workers for spraying disinfectant in the city without any training which is causing them skin and other health problems.
He said, "The sanitation workers have no knowledge about the use of hypochlorite solution as a disinfectant. Several workers are having breathing and skin problems because of it as they do not know about the proper concentration of chemical in the water to use it. The workers have burnt and peeled skin on their back after carrying the small spray tanks on their backs. The MCD is putting the life of workers at risk." Alleging that the MCD has deployed sanitation workers from Bijnor (Uttar Pradesh), he said that the said workers are being kept in different Rain Basera buildings where more than 30 workers are kept in the same room. "While the government has prohibited more than five people on the roads, MCD is keeping sanitation workers like animals in a single room. Without any safety precautions or social distance, these workers can be the carriers of the coronavirus in the city," averred Birla.
Rebutting all the claims, Dr Joshi said that all the workers are given beds which are at least one metre apart from each other. Talking about the burned and peeled off skin of the sanitation workers due to disinfectant tanks, he said that the workers are provided with equipment like raincoats so that the chemical does not come in contact with their skin. He stated that MCD has provided all the safety equipments to workers and it is up to them to use them properly while they work.
Meanwhile, Birla said that he has written letters to chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and cabinet minister Madan Kaushik about the safety of sanitation workers but so far no response has been received.