Yashahwini and Kavya
BENGALURU: In order to support the Pourakarmikas in the city, students from various college collaborated for a silent march. It took place on March 3 at Town Hall. The motive behind this march was to highlight the issues that this community faces and the injust that they go through.
Given the fact that these people belong to the untouchable community of Madiga, it becomes very tough to get another occupation as the society does not accept this change. Anjanaama, head of this march stated, “I pick garbage with my bare hands and yet I am not paid my wages for the work I do. There is no security when it comes to health. But it feels good to see so many students supporting and voicing us. We hope that we get justice. CM Siddaramaiah promised us our salaries long ago but that never really happened. We are paid once in three months. In particular women are made to work more when compared to men. Since we work during odd hours or very early morning, our children don’t get proper three course meal.”
The main focus of this march was to emphasize the atrocities done by the contractors on Pourakarmikas. The concerned authorities for this matter are City Corporation and the Government, who seem to show no concern on this matter. They are legally entitled to a salary of Rs 14,400 every month but this community gets paid around Rs 3000. There are certain demands by the Pourakarmika which includes a revised and improved minimum wage. They also call for constituting a committee with representatives from BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike), Pourakarmikas Union and civil society organizations to look into their living conditions. Massive exploitation done by the contractors on Pourakarmikas resulted in their inability to look after their basic requirements.
They also list in their requirements abolition of contract system, provision of facilities like drinking water, protective wear, and hygienic washrooms. They also want implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Along with this the Pourakarmikas demanded weekly holidays, festival and national holidays. Students from various colleges like St Joseph’s College of Commerce, Mount Carmel College, St Joseph’s college of Arts and Science were seen holding placards at the silent march. Siddhi Mahajankatti, a student from SJCC said, “I don’t think this march will be of much help to the Pourakarmikas. If there was any prerequisite knowledge well in advance, there could have been better preparation for the march on a larger scale.”