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Ten years on, 2500 SMC casual laborers await regularization

Srinagar: Life has been cruel to 30-year-old Nisar Ahmad, who has been working as a casual laborer at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) on a meager salary of Rs 6750 per month.

For the last 10 years, he has been living with a hope that one day SMC will fulfill its promise and regularize his services.  But in pursuit of happiness, he has lost everything.

 

“My wife is a housewife. I have two daughters and a son. Only Allah knows how I am managing my household expenses with a meager salary. I do not remember when I have bought new clothes for my children,” Nisar said.

A few years back, Nisar borrowed a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh to marry his sisters and every month bank deducts EMI from his salary. “I am living in rented accommodation in Batwara. Every month I have to pay Rs 2000 as rent. Being the only breadwinner, it is extremely difficult for me to sustain my family,” he said.  

Another casual employee Shabir Ahmad said despite risking their lives to clean the city, the government has always played second fiddle with them. “We were paid Rs 2100 per month when we were hired. Ten years on, we are getting just Rs. 6750. Plus the government has not regularized us,” he said.

 Nisar and Shabir are not isolated cases. There are at least 2500 casual employees who are awaiting regularization for the last decade.

“Even on government holidays and Sundays, our employees remain on duty. We have been pleading authorities to regularize our employees, but nothing has been done so far,” said Ghulam Muhammad Solina, President Safaikaramchari Union of SMC.   

Solina said the government is testing their patience. “If we will go on strike, Srinagar will turn into a dump yard. Whenever any disaster hits the valley, we are on the forefront,” he said.

An official at SMC wishing anonymity said that they are looking into the issue.

Commissioner of SMC Gazanfer Ali did not respond to the repeated calls from The Kashmir Monitor.