MCC’s Abhaya squad suffers from shortfalls
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MCC’s Abhaya squad suffers from shortfalls

May 7, 2024

Mysore/Mysuru: Abhaya, the emergency rescue squad of Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is down by shortfalls, triggering the inevitability to address them urgently, with the onset of rainy season posing a greater challenge.

Currently, Abhaya squad, comprising 3 teams, works in 3 shifts attending to the calls 24×7, but still the incapacitated squad is unable to complete the works in a time bound manner, that has become evident with the recent rainfall that poured misery, uprooting trees at various parts of the city and Abhaya personnel are still struggling to bring the situation to normalcy.

When the squad was inducted into MCC, the job was restricted to clearing footpath encroachments,  banners and cut-outs, along with draining out water which entered houses during the downpour. They are also deputed to clear trees and tree branches from the last two years.

The squad works in 3 shifts — 6 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 10 pm and 10 pm to  6 am — with each teams allotted equal number of vehicles, totalling 3 along with the required equipment. Each team comprises 4 personnel including a driver, who find it difficult to attend to multiple calls at a time.

During the recent rainfall (May 3), trees uprooted and branches fell on the roads in various parts of the city, but still the restoration works are going on at a snail’s pace. Barely three personnel attached to Abhaya, have to carry over the onerous task that requires more manpower, thus impeding the works to clear the trees and branches on time.

Amid this, the concerned citizens complain over the delay in the arrival of Abhaya squad, during emergency. MCC jurisdiction has three Assembly Constituencies split into 65 Wards with the population estimated over 14 lakh. Comparatively, the skeletal Abhaya staff will be in a state of quandary to address the grievances of such a mammoth number of residents.

The traffic hurdles on City Police Commissioner’s office road, Male Mahadeshwara Road to name a few still remain to be addressed, with the fallen trees and branches coming in the way of smooth flow of vehicles. While Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) Limited completed the restoration works on a warfooting replacing the electric poles that were damaged in the mayhem rain.

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Abhaya teams are hired on a contractual basis, with Rs. 3,96,750 being paid per month to the contractor, that covers vehicle rent, maintenance of equipment and salary of the personnel. They work according to the instructions of officers and staff deputed at respective Wards, but they will be busy especially during rainy season, a MCC Officer told Star of Mysore.

P.K. Mohan, Assistant Executive Engineer of Horticulture Department at MCC, said: “Two teams hired by the Horticulture Department ahead of monsoon rain (from February to July) have been also involved in clearance drive along with Abhaya squad. However, it may take a day or two to complete the works as 30 to 32 big trees have uprooted and over 150 tree branches have fallen this time. Four additional teams will be hired  to expedite the works.”

Caught between public reps and bureaucracy

Abhaya personnel have a volley of complaints with none to address them. Such is the situation, they always work in risky condition for a meagre pay of Rs. 8,000 per month, with job insecurity and temporary job adding to their grouse, except for Provident Fund (PF) and ESI Cover.

According to the law, there is no permission to put flex boards and cut-outs in pubic places, but if the Abhaya personnel act on the instructions of the officers to remove them, they have to face the ire of contractors who will be under the mercy of public representatives. If the cut-outs are tied to electric pole, we have to slip into the shoes of CESC personnel and climb the pole to remove the publicity material. But if we accidentally slip, there is no assurance of compensation. If we raise our voice, we should be ready to lose the job on flimsy grounds, rue Abhaya personnel.

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