In a belated but much-needed action, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has imposed a monetary fine on a private contractor for not providing needed equipment and protective gear to the conservancy workers who were tacked with the job of manually de-silting drains in the twin-city.
Deputy municipal commissioner (sanitation) Dr Sambhajji Panpatte levied the fine amounting to Rs 4,64,515 on the contractual agency identified as 'M/s M.B. Brothers' which had bagged the contract for manual and mechanical excavation with JCB’s, Boat-Poclain’s and Hydraulic Earth Moving Machines for the pre-monsoon de-silting work across the six zonal divisions demarcated in the twin-city.
The action followed in response to complaints filed by Krishna Gupta of Satyakam Foundation. Armed with photographic evidence showing conservancy workers engaged in manual de-silting operations sans gloves, gumboots or even masks, Gupta sought action against the contractor for depriving much-needed protection, at a time when the twin-city is battling the novel coronavirus disease and this workforce was more prone to contracting the virus.
However, no action has been taken against sanitation inspectors and other senior officers who allegedly played blind to the violations which attract criminal action under the in-force Epidemic Diseases Act.
Moreover, as per the provisions of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016, it is the duty and responsibility of the civic body to ensure that the contractors provide safety equipment to the contractual workers.
There are around 155 major and minor nullahs in the twin-city which measure up to more than 240 kms. While the shoddy de-silting work is an annual ritual, the clock-based pricing and shift-wise systems provide ample scope for manipulations in the billing system, exposing the unholy nexus between the contractor, a section of political leaders, and officials to mint money through corrupt ways.