Saturday, September 27, 2008

shit jobs

Who will do the dirty work is frequently the refrain from those who oppose a moneyless wageless society . All i can say that those who are forced by poverty to perform the sewer work in Delhi won't be expected to do it.

Omar Kumar gets drunk every day before he goes to work. It is the only way he can cope with spending hours chest-deep in Delhi's stinking sewers. "I have to drink alcohol -- if I don't, I cannot work," he said, after another shift unblocking tunnels beneath the Indian capital's slums, suburbs and factories. Health problems, and drug and alcohol addiction, are common among beldars who spend eight hours a day wading through sewage, said Hemlata Kansotia, a social worker
Kumar, a 30-year-old father of four, is one of thousands of men employed as "beldars," climbing down filthy manholes eight feet (2.4 metres) deep, dressed only in underpants and equipped with little more than a hoe and a wooden bar.
"When inside, the stench is so strong it hits you in your face," said Kumar's brother-in-law Vinod, also a sewage worker. "It is like descending into hell. Rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes. Dirty sludge and human waste all around. I hate my job but I have to earn money for my children."

"Sewer cleaners are operating in working conditions wholly incompatible with human dignity and hazardous to health," Delhi High Court Justice A.P. Shah stated in his ruling.

A 2005 report by a New Delhi-based Centre for Education and Communication, a think tank, found that half the city's sewage workers were malnourished or suffered from chronic illnesses.

Ashish Mittal, one of the doctors who wrote the report, said the High Court's intervention was desperately needed.
"Many workers die of asphyxiation," he said. "The sewers are full of noxious and dangerous gases -- hydrogen sulphide, methane, carbon monoxide -- from decomposing industrial, household and even hospital waste.A confined space without much oxygen can also cause syncope, which is a sudden loss of consciousness due to a stoppage of blood to the brain. Its long-term effects can be debilitating."
The manholes are too narrow for workers to wear protective suits, so skin problems and respiratory tract infections are also common, Mittal said

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