Despite the BBMP providing waste collectors with masks and gloves, they fail to follow Covid protocols.
Bengaluru: Garbage collectors in Bengaluru fail to follow Covid protocols while collecting waste from citizens. Many were seen not wearing masks, gloves, and boots; which are all essential while dealing with waste.
4646 auto tippers in the city do door-to-door waste collection in 198 wards. According to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP), different days have been allocated for different types of waste collection.
Throughout the week, wet waste is collected, while on Thursdays, dry waste is collected, segregated, and sent to the landfill in Bellahalli for burial. Once a week the BBMP also identifies houses to collect biomedical waste from home isolation cases for Covid-19.
Citizens complain that waste collectors do not have safety gear on when they arrive every morning. “Those who have their masks on, it is always below their nose. They don’t wear gloves either. I have to go and put the garbage every day in the auto,” said Roopa Dhurvaraj, resident of Banashankari.
Garbage collectors come under the purview of the civic body (BBMP). Last week new gloves and masks were distributed to them along with sanitizer bottles. These workers are at a high risk of contracting the virus as they are the ones that segregate the waste before the compactors come and collect it.
“The BBMP has provided us with a few things like masks, gloves, and sanitizers. I just took off my mask and gloves right now, because work is over, otherwise I wear it,” said Salim S, who was seen dumping waste in the auto tipper.
The city generates over 3,700 tonnes of mixed waste every single day that is sent to the outskirts of the city for disposal, said the Sewage Waste Management (SWM) department of BBMP.
The civic body claims that they have reserved a few beds in government hospitals for frontline workers. Officials also say that they conduct surprise inspections to see if rules are followed. “Auto tippers have been provided with everything. They have been instructed on how to collect waste in times of Covid. Their supervisors also take care of this,” said P. Vishwanath, Chief Executive Engineer, SWM.
Experts say that if hygiene is not maintained by waste collectors it can cause a lot of trouble not just to them but also to citizens at large. Collecting waste with bare hands can lead to harmful diseases like HIV, typhoid, cholera.
Auto tippers are frontline workers along with pourakarmikas who sweep the streets of the city. Since the pandemic started more than 30 of these sweepers have succumbed to Covid-19.