July 30, 2015
It has been observed that the working conditions of sanitary workers force them to consume alcohol. This, they believe helps them to put up with the stink while removing garbage and releasing blocks in the drains.
Workers and trade union representatives are planning to organise a series of special rehabilitation programmes for the sanitary workers to relieve them from alcohol addiction. They also hope to protect the workers from falling prey to the spurious liquors, if the total prohibition would be imposed in Tamil Nadu.
About the issue, K. Rangaraj, District Secretary of Tirupur Mavatta Ooraga Valarchi, Ullachi Thurai Ooliyar Sangam, said: “All sanitary workers are not addicted to liquor. However, the percentage of persons who consume alcohol regularly is high when compared to other working sectors. This is a result of the working system, which has not changed for the past many decades.”
A sanitary worker, said: “We collect waste, which stinks heavily and we also enter into the drainage and culverts to remove the blocks in the waste water flow. We work with bare hands and there is no modern equipment or accessories provided for the workers.”
According to him, it is common among the sanitary workers to consume alcohol while working to bear the stink and foul smell.
“Residents sometimes provide us drinks free of cost to get sanitary work done in their streets and homes. As the habit is not a new one, and also not objectionable, all the family members become drunkards in some cases.” he rued.
Another worker said: “Since we are working under the influence of alcohol, we do not mind working in filth and unhygienic environment. However, workers start consuming alcohol regularly and make it a habit without knowing the serious consequences of becoming addicted to it.”
Rangaraj called for modernization of waste collection methods to be implemented in addition to conducting rehabilitation programmes for alcohol addiction.
He said: “As an urgent measure, all corporations and municipalities should engage a team led by a doctor to conduct regular de-addiction and rehabilitation programmes. The regular programmes with medical treatment will help them avoid liquor, and those addicted to liquor should be given additional care to rehabilitate them.”
If total prohibition would be imposed, sanitary workers would have more chances to consume spurious liquor.
“Before imposing prohibition, Government should concentrate on the rehabilitation of sanitary workers to protect them.” he noted.