Palike's number game over pourakarmikas

Palike's number game over pourakarmikas
The city has as many as 160 poura­karmi­kas for each of the 198 wards, going by the claims of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.

According to the civic body, Bengaluru has a total of 31,500 pourakarmikas and the number includes both regular and contract workers. On paper, the civic agency pays Rs 659 crore to the contractors, of which a substantial sum goes as salaries to the pourakarmikas. However, civic activists feel that these numbers are inflated.

A social activist working for the rights of pourakarmikas rubbished the Palike data saying that the figures are far from reality. According to him, there are hardly 18,000-odd pourakarmikas working in the city. “While crores of rupees are being claimed towards salaries of pourkarmikas by inflating their numbers, they have not been paid revised salaries even five months after the government issued the order.

Pourakarmikas are being exploited both ways,” the worker said. Kathyayini Chamaraj of Civic, an NGO, doubts the veracity of the figures. She says, none of the wards, however big, has more than 100 pourakarmikas. She suspected that the BBMP had inflated the numbers by 40%.

“T M Vijay Bhaskar, during his tenure as Palike administrator, had sensed fudging of numbers. Often he would reach the muster points early in the morning to physically verify presence of pourakarmikas. He had even urged the RWAs and Shuchi Mitras to check the number of civic workers in each ward,” Kathyayini said. When contacted, Bhaskar, who is now additional chief secretary, refused to comment on the actual number of pourakarmikas in Bengaluru. He, however, insisted that there should be a geotag-based biometric attendance system that will identify the location of pourakarmikas.

Venkataramana, a member of BBMP Pourakarmikas and Gangmen’s Association, too concurred that the numbers claimed by the Palike were far from real. He said Bengaluru may have around 18,000 pourkarmikas.

“Salaries are being drawn in the name of dead people. Even the associates of the contractors are drawing salaries of pourakarmikas. Since the salary had to be credited to the bank accounts of the workers, the contractors have found this novel way,” he said. In addition, the contractors are also claiming salaries on the pretext of employing additional pourakarmikas to clear excess garbage generated in the city, he said. “This is another form of loot.”

The BBMP officials, during a surprise inspection at the mustering centre in Sampangiram Nagar found that there were only 45 pourakarmikas against the strength of 117.

Narayan, former chairperson of Safai Karmachari Aayog said that the contractors had not deposited the provident contribution for the pourkarmikas for the past 10 years. “This is a mega scam, which the CID should investigate,” he said. Even the information on number of compactors furnished by the contractors is wrong. While there are 931 compactors on paper, only 250 are on the ground.

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