By M.B. Pavan Murthy
“Wash your hands with soap, maintain hygiene, use hand sanitiser and ensure social distancing.” This has been the new mantra amidst the lockdown due to the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus, which has now marked its presence in 184 countries across the globe.
Who are the frontline warriors who are risking their lives every day, coming out of the comfort of their houses to ensure that those staying at home feel comfortable, are cared for and feel safe?
They are the doctors, healthcare workers, Police personnel and last but not the least the employees of Municipal Corporations in each city across the country who too have to step out of their houses, go to each house to collect waste, clean roads, fumigate streets, clean the manholes and keep the sewage system running. And the employees of MCC (Mysuru City Corporation) are no different.
Day begins at 6 am
Each day, in spite of the barricades in each street and many other restrictions in place, the Pourakarmikas (700 permanent employees and 1,648 contract employees) of ‘Namma Mysuru’ have to reach their respective Zonal Offices and start their day at 6 am, sweeping, blowing their whistles, pushing their carts and collecting waste from each house to ensure that all the citizens maintain hygiene at home and outside.
And their role now, amidst the deadly outbreak of Coronavirus is even more significant. MCC has ensured that all its Pourakarmikas have gloves, masks and other protective gears with them while on duty. Also, their working hours have been reduced to help minimise the risk.
Now, their working hours is from 6 am to 10.30 am as opposed to the earlier timings of 6.30 am to 2 pm. All the employees have been strictly instructed to maintain social distancing while on duty and off duty too.
MCC Commissioner Gurudatta Hedge has instructed all the respective officers to make sure that the Pourakarmikas follow safety protocol without fail.
Waste collection from quarantined houses
In the recent times where there have been reported incidents of pelting stones at doctors treating COVID-19 patients and at Police Officers showing the sheer apathy of people towards such things, imagine the plight of those Pourakarmikas who as part of their duty, have to collect garbage from the houses where people are under quarantine.
The MCC has provided nine exclusive vehicles for collecting waste from quarantined houses, with a driver and one Pourakarmika assigned in each area, provided with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) dress kits which they have to wear compulsorily to avoid the risk of contracting the virus.
Special training has been provided for such Pourakarmikas on how to deal with the waste collected from the quarantined houses and how to dispose of the waste too. “The waste collected from these quarantined houses are to be treated as bio-medical waste. The dry waste management has been outsourced to an external agency — Sri Consultants and that of wet waste management is being taken up the MCC itself. The wet waste is disposed of in a scientific way, by digging up deep pits and then burying the waste,” MCC Health Officer Dr. D.G. Nagaraj, told ‘Star of Mysore.’
Health check-up for Pourakarmikas
“Earlier, all the Pourakarmikas used to have a health check-up once in six months. But now with these Pourakarmikas being exposed to so much risk, the Government has ordered that all the employees compulsorily undergo health screening regularly. Hence, the MCC has collaborated with six hospitals in city — Jayadeva Cardiovascular Institute, Suyog Hospital, Clear Medi Radiant Hospital, Medicure Diagnostic Hospital, Cauvery Hospital and JSS Hospital. Pourakarmikas may choose the one closest to their house and go get their health screened,” said MCC Health Officer Dr. M.S. Jayanth and added that the health screening is being taken up in phases.
To facilitate the commute of Pourakarmikas amidst the lockdown and with no city bus facilities, MCC has arranged for pick-up and drop of these employees by arranging two city buses from Mandakalli and Bharathnagar.
Saluting sewage workers too
With Mysuru being among the top cleanest city in the country, credit is due for the 231 sewage workers of the MCC too along with the Pourakarmikas. And now, with the virus outbreak, the role of these sewage workers in ensuring proper sewage management is important too and they are doing it with utmost diligence and complete dedication.
Apart from cleaning the manholes in city, these workers are also part of the fumigation team, covering each street in the city, fumigating chemical disinfectants using the jetting sprays. Risking their lives, these workers are cleaning the sewer systems, ensuring that the sewage doesn’t overflow on to the streets, especially at a time when hygiene and cleanliness are of great importance. All the workers have been provided with masks, hand gloves, sanitisers and rubber boots by the MCC to ensure safety.
“Amidst the Corona outbreak and with so many other diseases out there, the Pourakarmikas are doing such a great job, knowing the risks involved. Although the MCC has provided them with masks, gloves, sanitisers and other safety gears, we have urged the MCC officers to provide extra care and ensure complete safety of all the Pourakarmikas.” — Mysuru District Pourakarmika Welfare High-level Committee President N. Mara
“MCC has provided us with masks, gloves and all safety equipment. They have also arranged breakfast and lunch for us apart from arranging bus facility. We too are scared to come out of our houses due to this virus but it is our duty and hence we are coming to work every day.”— Rathna, a MCC woman Pourakarmika
“MCC has given us gloves, masks and sanitisers for carrying out our duties responsibly and safely. Many of us are working in second shift to fumigate streets with chemical disinfectants. The MCC Commissioner and Officers are ensuring that we are all safe and taken care of.”- Palani, MCC sewage worker
“In spite of MCC making travel arrangements for us to reach the office in the morning, it is difficult on some days to even reach the bus stop since there are barricades all along and in some areas, the residents themselves have created barricades and closed up the roads. During such times, we have to take detour resulting in delay in reaching the bus stop.”– Ramesh, Pourakarmika