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How municipality’s sweepers suffer for wages and facilities

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Nov 27: Puffing a cigarette, Bashir (not his real name) leans onto a five-foot broom, staring at the fallen Chinar leaves scattered on the Bund along the Jhelum.

The sun in the November sky makes him squint his eyes, as he moves his bristle-broom a little faster, causing a cloud of dust.

Bashir, a middle-aged sweeper associated with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), had nearly quit his job until his financial compulsions forced him to return to work.

 

Every day, Bashir, before his day’s work begins at 2 in the afternoon, shoulders rice bags from Fair Price Shops to the consumers’ homes.
“Last month, I took a loan from a friend just to survive. I was left in a fix, as I had no money to spend on my daily expenses,” Bashir, who works on pittance paid by the municipality after “every four months”, says.

“How long shall I live like this?” he asks, breaking into a cough due to dust.

Bashir’s colleague, who works in the evening shift, cleans a barber’s salon and a few houses for additional income.“Money remains a constant worry. Our monthly remuneration is too less to survive on. If cleanliness is so important, why are we given this step-motherly treatment?” Nazir (not his real name), whose monthly remuneration amounts to Rs 7,500, says.

Out of eleven sweepers on duty at the spot, not a single one wears the uniform. They sweep without gloves or masks.

An exception, Javed Ahmad (name changed) has disposable plastic gloves on.“No, they are not provided by the municipality,” he clears. “My sister, who works in the Health Department, gave them to me, as I had developed blisters because of the frequent exposure to dust.”

While the tussle over increased wages is common for the substantive staff in the government departments, hike seems a distant dream for the daily-wagers, who put in the same effort.

To aggravate their problems, they are deprived of the various provisions such as safety gear or uniforms.
Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Peer Hafizullah, says the department has already redressed their grievances.“We have placed an order for 3,500 uniforms through the state Handloom Department. Also, the purchase officer has been authorised to buy the required equipment including masks, gloves and gum-boots,” he said.

“These matters are on our priority list but there is a certain procedure to be followed in government departments which unfortunately takes time.”


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Kashmir

Linking employers to skilled youth first charge of Employment Exchanges: Ganai

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Srinagar, Jun 16: Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, today urged the Employment Department to provide all assistance to unemployed educated youth in the State in their hunt for jobs in the ever-expanding domestic and global markets.

He said the focus of employment exchanges should be on vocational guidance and career counseling and these exchanges should link the employer with the registered candidates.

The Advisor made these observations while reviewing the functioning of the Labour & Employment Department and especially the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Yojana (PM-SYM).

 

Commissioner/ Secretary, Labour & Employment, Saurabh Bhagat, Labour Commissioner, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Director, EDI, Tufail Mattoo, Director Employment, Y. P. Suman, Managing Director Women’s Development Corporation, Nahida Soz, CEO, BOCWWB, Peer Muzaffar and all district and sectoral officers of the Labour & Employment Department were present on the occasion.

Asking the Department to take a cue from successful start-ups in the country like paytm, urban clap, housing.com etc, the Advisor said new innovative ideas shall help in establishment of enterprises that have greater scope and market acceptability.

Laying stress upon providing better working conditions to the working class, Ganai stressed upon strict implementation of labour laws to protect the interest of the labour community. He said the officers of the Department should be well-versed with labour laws and new legislations so that they are better enforced in the larger interest of the working and construction class. 

While reviewing the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Yojana, the Advisor asked the Department to closely monitor registration of workers in CICs. He suggested use of random checking to revalidate data which shall plug holes in computing errors while registering eligible persons.

Under PMSYM which offers regular pension to the labour class people after they attain the age of 60, as many as 56,313 registrations had been done and 46,927 cards printed so far in the State.

Presenting a detailed review of the three wings of the Labour & Employment Department, the Administrative Secretary briefed the Advisor about various schemes and welfare programmes launched for educated unemployed youth and the labour community. He informed the meeting about various schemes being implemented through J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI).

The meeting was informed that during 2018-19, as many as 966 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) were registered which comprised 4188 engineers. As many as 2237 works worth Rs.191.54 crore were allotted to these SHGs.

Director EDI informed the meeting about Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SCFS), Youth Start-up Loan Scheme and giving term and education loans to youth through National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation. He said that projects worth Rs. 536.77 crore had been sanctioned under these schemes and as many as 13,464 enterprises were established generating employment for 43192 persons.

While briefing the Advisor about the initiatives on labour welfare, the Labour Commissioner said a payment gateway would soon be launched to make online contributions for the benefit of subscribers. He said concerted efforts are on to register new subscribers and complete the disbursement of backlog claims and make recoveries from the defaulters.

The meeting was informed that all 5.10 lakh Provident Fund accounts had been digitized and the scanning of important subscribers’ documents would be taken up in the next phase.

The Advisor appreciated the role of Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (BOCWWB) in providing financial assistance to workers in the form of education and marriage assistance as well as in case of injury, death and permanent disability of workers.

The meeting was informed that against a corpus of Rs 899.66 crore, Rs. 371.79 crore were disbursed amongst construction workers since 2011. This includes education assistance amounting to Rs 266.82 crore, marriage assistance of Rs. 73.98 crore and death assistance amounting to Rs. 24.82 crore.

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Boulevard bicycle service refuses to pedal on

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Srinagar, Jun 16: The 2017 project to start a bicycle sharing service on the famed Boulevard road here is yet to see the light of the day.

In November 2017, the then minister of state for Housing and Urban development, Asiea Naqash had announced that the bicycle sharing service will be set around Dal Lake and its adjacent areas for tourists as part of the Smart City Project.

She had said that the service will help tourists in exploring the adjoining scenic spots and also generate employment avenues for the locals.

 

However, the service is yet to begun.

“Tourists especially foreigners enjoy experiencing the valley on two wheelers. Even before 90s, they used to rent cycles from private sources to explore Kashmir,” said adventure sports and travel consultant, Rauf Tramboo.

“This service could have proved as a major tourist attraction if started on Boulevard,” said Bashir Ahmad, 50, who runs a Kashmir Art shop at Dalgate.

If it had been started, the service could have been an eco-friendly and healthy solution to decongest the traffic on Boulevard.

The concerned authorities, however, feign ignorance about it.

“This project comes under Srinagar Smart City limited handled by the DC. I have no information regarding the current scenario for this service,” said PRO Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA),  Muhammad Azhar, who, interestingly,  was part of the meeting which addressed the modalities for introducing bicycle sharing back then.

Director tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmed Wani said he was “not aware” of the project.

DC Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary was not available for comments.

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AMK pays tribute to Shujaat Bukhari

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jun 16: Terming Shujaat Bukhari, the slain journalist and editor-in-chief of ‘Rising Kashmir’, as one of the visionaries, poets, writers and intellectuals Sunday paid tribute to him at a literary function.

Organized by Adbi Markaz Kamraz (AMK) Jammu and Kashmir, the event was held at the auditorium of Department of Information, Srinagar to commemorate the first death anniversary of the slain journalist.

President Adbi Markaz Kamraz, Farooq Rafiabadi said: “Shujaat Sahab carved a niche for himself in the literary circle by promoting Kashmiri language in letter and spirit. Not only that, he also chose to be a social worker while wholeheartedly extending a helping hand during the devastating floods of 2014.”

 

“He was a man of small gestures that made him big. His welcoming smile, straight-forward nature and his relentless attitude to fight for his motherland made him all the more special,” he said.

Recalling his association with Shujaat, prominent journalist Mohammad Syed Malik said: “He was a keen political observer. That is the reason why his reportage holds more significance. Besides, his acceptability across the border is far more than any other journalist.”

“Documentation of the past is not an easy job. At a time when everybody is trying to become a historian, Shujaat Sahab would interpret the ongoing situation rather than delving into the history,” he said.

Malik stressed, “He understood the requirements of the subject and concretely wrote about issues like Indo-Pak and human-rights violations.”

Former Secretary J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages Aziz Hajni also spoke on the occasion.

Referring to the past, he said: “I remember once his health deteriorated and I rushed to the hospital. I advised him not to overburden himself with work. He smiled and said, ‘I can’t help but strive harder to serve my people’.”

The most endearing trait about him was that he believed in growing with others and not alone. His other beautiful trait was that he was a family man and knew how to strike a balance between personal and professional life,” he said.

He added, “His contribution to Adbi Markaz is beyond words. His love for his mother-tongue could be gauged that he literally ran from pillar to post to bring in a Kashmiri newspaper.”

Others who spoke on the occasion included Justice Bashir Kirmani, Basharat Bukhari, Mohammad Shafi Pandit, Professor Naseem Shifaei, Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq, and Dr Altaf. 

Adv Ganai pays rich tributes to Shujaat Bukhari

Monitor News Bureau

Srinagar, Jun 16: Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, today paid rich tributes to noted journalist and founder editor of Rising Kashmir Dr. Syed Shujaat Bukhari on his first death anniversary.

In a message, the Advisor recalled the outstanding contribution of late Shujaat Bukhari in the field of media. He remembered Shujaat as a brilliant journalist and a role model who made a huge impact in growth of media in the State.

Ganai said Shujaat Bukhari has left behind a huge legacy which will continue to inspire young and budding journalists in the State.

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