Safai Karamcharis: The Unsung warriors of the COVID-19 battle
While most of us remain safely confined to the comforts of our homes under an intensive nation-wide lockdown to keep the Coronavirus at bay, there are a silent group of people who are working tirelessly to ensure that our surroundings are clean and litter-free. Enter the Safai Karamcharis or sanitation workers of our State, who are acting as the frontline of defence for us against the virus that has killed and infected thousands across the globe.
Imagine if the Municipal garbage truck fails to show up at our localities for few days, we not only face the unsettling discomfort of living with the stench from our waste bins but we also face the risk of a public health catastrophe thus adding to the burden of the already ongoing pandemic. Therefore, it is imperative for us to understand and appreciate the contribution of our safai karamcharis who are toiling hard to perform their daily duties of collecting, segregating and disposing of our household waste even during the time of a lockdown. They are working at par with the doctors, healthcare workers, policemen and other frontline workers at such trying times. There are a total number of 30 safai karamcharis deployed under Nayabazar Jorethang Municipal Council (NJMC) who in recent view of the COVID outbreak work dedicatedly and collect garbage from offices (those functional) and urban households twice a day. NJMC has provided them with sanitizers, gloves, boots and masks and made it mandatory for them to use it while on the job. 41-year-old Mani Kumar Lakandri is amongst the 30 safai karmacharis employed under NJMC whose day starts as early as 4:30 am every day when he along with his counterparts start cleaning the bazaar areas of Jorethang. “The risks and health problems that we run while doing this work even during a lockdown are many, moreover every now and then people throw shards of glass, plastics and medical waste heedlessly which challenges our task but that doesn’t stop us from doing our jobs because if we don’t do it then who will,” states M.K Lakandri who has been working as a safai karamchari with NJMC since 9 years. Similarly, Smt. Rajani Pega MEO NJMC also brought to light how these workers are working around the clock to clean the clogged drains while also spraying disinfectant in and around the town to eliminate any health hazards for the public. Periodic health checkups and necessary tetanus shots are also being administered for the safai karmacharis by the NJMC to ensure the overall health and well-being of these employees, she adds.
Keeping in mind the unshakable contributions of the sanitation workers, we as responsible citizens owe it to them to offer a conducive environment by doing our part of following source segregation. In addition, we must also discard our used medical waste like masks, syringes and gloves with extreme caution while also disposing of used tissues and sanitary waste separately. Also, the usage of plastics should be avoided as much as possible. When ensuring cleanliness and basic hygiene has become a mantra for us, these noble warriors spend their average days being exposed to the wastes generated from our homes. They are indeed our everyday silent heroes who actually face the potential high risk of being infected but instead are the ones who never fail in their selfless desire of service just so we remain comfortable and safe within the four corners of our house. Salute to these brave safai soldiers of Sikkim!