Mayor’s nod for high-tech gym infuriates civic workers

Bengaluru mayor’s Goutham Kumar nod for high-tech gym infuriates civic workers

In a move that has raised serious questions over the civic body’s priorities, the mayor has recommended a high-tech gym for BBMP officers.

The recommendation comes at a time when thousands of pourakarmikas, at the frontline of the Covid-19 fight, are demanding personal protective equipment and corporators are seeking funds to provide relief material to the poor and the needy trapped in the lockdown.

In his note to the BBMP commissioner, Mayor Goutham Kumar said a memorandum requesting the construction of a 30x60 sq ft gym has come on Monday from the president of the BBMP officers and employee's welfare association.

"As the request is appropriate in view of the health of the officers/employees, it is hereby advised that an order be issued to the officer concerned to take steps immediately to construct a high-tech gym," the mayor's letter, marked to the BBMP commissioner, special commissioner and other officials said.

To a question, the mayor told DH there might have been an "error" while framing the note and said he would look into it. 

Over the last two months, pourakarmikas have been demanding protective gear (PPE), dry ration and transport service.

“Our members received masks, gloves and sanitisers just a few days ago. The transport services are poor as the BMTC buses stop only at the main road, forcing the workers to walk for several kilometres to reach home. We haven’t received dry ration yet,” said Nirmala, president, BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha.

Pointing out that the cooked food supplied to the civic workers is of poor quality, she asked why the BBMP is in such a hurry to build a gym for officers, while it makes the civic workers eat inedible food?

Palike has failed the poor, says Opposition

BBMP Opposition leader Abdul Wajid said the letter is evidence that the civic body is not taking the crises gripping the city seriously. "Such requests should not be entertained in this situation,” he said. “The mayor should have made efforts to earmark Rs 20 lakh for Covid-19 relief work in each ward.” He pointed out that the state government has not even sanctioned the budget for the corporation and efforts should have been made to get it done quickly.

Wajid accused the BBMP of failing the city’s poor. “Only those who have got help from the state government are saved,” he said. “The corporation should have reached out to thousands of people suffering from hunger.”