Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the New Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to spell out the exact number of face masks, hand gloves sanitizers and other protective equipment, it had before the lockdown was announced.
The HC has also asked the civic body to give a breakup of these items distributed to all its employees, especially 3,261workers, who work in the Solid Waste Management department.
The bench of Justice Shahrukh Kathawalla was seized with a petition filed by Samaj Samata Kamgaar Sangh (SSKS) highlighting the 'inhuman conditions' in which over 6,277 workers of the NMMC were working. According to the union, 3,261 workers are involved in SWM department including day-to-day road cleaning and transportation of garbage.
"They are compelled to handle garbage and solid waste with bare hands and are not provided with any water to clean their hands and feet throughout the day. They are only provided with 2-3 drops of hand sanitizers before and after work," the union claimed.
The plea further claimed that 693 workers are employed in the health department, which includes duties at four corporation hospitals and 23 urban health posts across the city. It further cited that about 65 workers are employed on cemetery cleaning duty.
"Despite the workers discharging essential services and have been regularly reporting to work at their respective stations, they are not provided with any protection from Covid-19 virus such as hand sanitizers, hand gloves, face masks, PPEs etc save and except providing low quality face masks and hand gloves on one occasion.
The said workers are, therefore, highly exposed to catching the deadly Covid-19 virus thereby putting in jeopardy their own lives as well as the lives of their family members," the union argued. Disputing the contentions, the NMMC claimed to have provided all the equipment to these employees from time to-time.
"Let there be an affidavit, setting out the number of face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitizers which were in possession of the NMMC, prior to the announcement of the lockdown, the subsequent additions thereto, along with detailed breakup of the distribution carried out from time to time till date," Justice Kathawalla said while adjourning the matter.