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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

Human Rights Day: Parents of disappeared persons again protest for justice

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Dec 10: On the Human Rights Day observed on Monday, the parents of disappeared persons pledged to carry on their struggle for justice.

They staged a sit-in at Press Enclave here under the banner of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) to register their protest.

Abdul Rahim, a protester who had travelled from his home in Bijbehara, Anantnag, said he would continue his struggle for locating his son who has gone missing 24 years ago.

“On the fateful day, 2-3 persons came to my home to ask for my younger son. They took him along. Since 1994, I have no information about his whereabouts. He was studying in class 9,” Rahim said.

Rahim, father of three children, said he went from pillar to post to find his son.“I went everywhere but couldn’t find him. His mother continuously searched him for almost two years in every nook and corner. She still hopes that he will come,” said Rahim, a fruit vendor.

“At least we should know whether he is alive or not.”

Chairperson APDP, Parveena Ahangar, said they would continue to demand whereabouts of their children.

Ahangar, whose son is one of the estimated 10,000 victims of enforced disappearances in Kashmir, said, “The state has not only denied the phenomena of enforced disappearances but it has also legalised laws like AFSPA. It has provided full impunity to the perpetrators, protecting them and thus creating hurdles in acquiring justice.”

“No government addressed the issue of enforced disappearances. We would continue to seek the whereabouts of our children till our last breath.”
Condemning the use of “excessive violence” against the civilians, she asked the world community to press New Delhi to stop all kinds of “human rights violations”.

Meanwhile, Awami Itihaad Party (AIP) organised a daylong seminar titled ‘Allow international human rights organisations to visit J&K’ here.
The seminar was attended by the cross section of the society.

Addressing the seminar, AIP Leader and MLA Langate, Engineer Rashid, said the government of India should allow the world bodies to visit Kashmir.
“Recently, UNHRC in its report said that the human rights in Kashmir are violated. The security forces are getting indulged in worst human rights violations,” he said.

“India has been saying that everything is fine. If it is so, why is it not allowing the human rights organisations to visit Kashmir?” he asked.
Civil society member, Shakeel Qalander said India treated “Kashmir as its colony”.

“It should give up the colonial mindset,” he said.

Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam urged people to reject all voices speaking in different tunes at different places.

Columnist, Aijaz-ul-Haq said the rights of the Kashmiris have been kept hostage.“Even trees and animals have rights,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir State Rights Commission (JKSRC) also organised a programme on human rights and drug addiction in the auditorium of the Department of Information and Public Relations.

Among others, the function was attended by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir range, Swayam Prakash Pani, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Abid Rashid Shah, and Deputy Commissioner Budgam, Syed Sehrish Asgar.

Talking to the media persons, IGP Pani said police was doing “everything possible” to check drug menace.“As far as synthetic drugs are concerned, they are being transported from across the border,” he said.

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Ahead of polls, BJP making strenuous efforts to polarize situation in J&K: PDP

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Srinagar, Dec 10: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said that Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is making strenuous efforts to polarize the situation in Jammu and Kashmir

“As elections are in the offing, the BJP is making strenuous efforts to polarize the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as the party has nothing to show to its voters on developmental front. However, people are now well aware about the way in which BJP functions and how the party cares least about the national interest and state’s integrity while fulfilling its own agendas,” Former Minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said.

He said that BJP has got a, “univocal agenda which thrives on hate and promotes tensions and that the party has got unnerved due to the recent political developments in Kashmir’s political landscape that unfolded new possibilities and eroded BJP’s blackmailing position”.

He added that the party is trying to malign the regional political groups of Jammu and Kashmir as ideologically there is a deep chasm between them and the BJP. “When in need the BJP handshakes with everybody and then back out on its promises. On the contrary, other political parties have exhibited maturity during the crucial times and have reached out to all sections of the society. As far as the PDP is concerned, the party will continue with its endeavor to work for everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” said Akhtar.

While reacting to BJP leader Dr Jitendra Singh’s statement that Kashmir’s mainstream politicians are more dangerous than separatists, Akhter asked BJP to explain why it ignored its 25 MLAs and selected a CM candidate from Kashmir who has mere 2 seats in the assembly.

Akhtar questioned Dr Jitendra Singh’s assertions, asking that if there was such a lack of trust in other parties of the state, the BJP should have selected its own CM candidate from the party itself. “Why were you (Jitendra Singh) or Kulvinder Gupta or any other BJP leader not chosen as CM candidate of the party from the state. How can you people convince your own voters after such a decision has been taken by your party,” Akhtar asked.

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Secy I&FC reviews progress on Phase 1 of Flood Management project

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SRINAGAR, DEC 10: The Secretary to Government PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC), Farooq Ahmad Shah today reviewed the progress on Phase 1 of ongoing Flood Management project.

The re-sectioning of Flood Management project Phase 1 coming up at Rs 399 crore from Padshahi Bagh to Wular is aimed at increasing the discharge capacity of flood channel and is set to be completed by March 2019.

The Secretary was briefed that the salvage of the causeway at Mehjoor Nagar Bridge including pipes and pile heads are being removed at a fast pace.
He was also informed that the re-sectioning work is going on in full swing from Padshahi Bagh to Hokersar including Shariefabad. It was added that the re-sectioning of Flood Spill Channel at Naidkhai is also in progress and land acquisition is almost complete.

On seeking the details regarding construction of two bridges at NaidKhai and Shariefabad, the concerned officers assured the Secretary that the same will also be completed by March 2019.
Shah was further informed that the beautification of river Jehlum at Srinagar is on and the project costs about Rs 5 crore.

The Secretary said an advance action on Phase 2 has also been started for which project enforcing agency WAPCOS has assured that the DPR for it will be submitted within 15 days.

He said that the government has already committed to start the project by next season and all the concerned are directed to complete and wind up phase 1 by March 2019.

During the meeting, the procurement of pipes for Tral LIS was also discussed and the EX. Engineer S.E assured that the tenders will be finalized in 25 days.

The Secretary warned that no lapse would be tolerated in meeting the deadline of the projects.

He later visited Mehjoor Nagar Bridge and other sites for on the spot inspection of the ongoing works.

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