MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, March 24 - Amidst election campaigns being carried out by political parties across the State, residents of the slum areas here, who are mainly engaged as cleaning workers in various government and private entities, urged the candidates to provide them proper shelters and drinking water facility along with a secured job, after they get elected.
“We have been working as cleaning workers mainly for the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) for many years. But we still don’t have well-constructed homes, despite living in the city,” Yasfar Rao, a resident of the Ambari area, told The Assam Tribune.
According to him, although the earlier state government had initiated a project to build RCC houses for them, unfortunately, the project remains incomplete. He also alleged that due to the negligence of the contractor concerned, even completed houses are not safe for living.
“Another serious issue in our locality is the lack of proper water supply. We urgently need some water filters as the groundwater here contains an extensive amount of iron. Due to which, we often suffer from various health ailments, especially stomach problems,” he said.
Rao alleged that most of the aged people of his area are still deprived of availing the pension scheme of the Central government. Most of the families in the area also don’t have ration cards.
“I have been working under the GMC as a cleaning worker for the past 16 years. My duty starts at 5 am and ends at 1 pm every day without any holiday. Despite working for such a long time, I am still deprived of a permanent job. My daily wage is only Rs 260 and it is not enough to run my family,” said Promod Kumar Shah.
Shah said under the GMC, around 1,120 cleaning workers have been working on a daily wage basis and all of them reside in various slum areas located across the city.
“We have no provident fund, no medical facility. If one worker could not attend the duty due to health problems, he or she will lose the wage for the day. Even the GMC officials are also not ready to take the risk if an accident takes place during our duty hour,” he added.
Another cleaning worker Ram Ayodha Shah said, “Unemployment among new generation is another big problem for us.”
“Before every election, we use to raise our issues when candidates approach us for votes. But no steps have been taken by them to solve our problems so far,” he said, adding, “in Guwahati, most of the slum areas are treated as dumping zones. So, we are living in very unhygienic conditions. Even most of the families have no sanitary latrines.”
Chiranjib Chakravarty, a higher secondary student of Gauhati Commerce College and a resident of a slum area located at Bhaskar Nagar here, said child marriages and substance abuse are major issues in his locality.
“Despite various schemes implemented by the State and central governments, child marriages are still taking place in our area. Moreover, a large number of young people fell victim to substance abuse. Many of them also got addicted to gambling,” he said.