Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday organised a ‘loan mela’ under the “Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge” to provide easy loan facility to sanitation workers to buy machines for cleaning septic tanks and sewers so that inhumane practice of manual scavenging can be eliminated.
Over a hundred of sanitation workers participated in the programme. Three companies – Kam Avida, TPS Infrastructure and Maniar & Co. – exhibited their products during the event which could be used for cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
There were seven stalls were put up where sanitation workers interested to buy machinery and equipment got an opportunity to interact with the company representatives. Representatives of the three private companies have given presentations showing some modern machines which are being used by ‘Safaimitras’ in metro cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai etc.
The loans are being provided by the National Safai Karamchari Finance Development Corporation (NSKFDC), a wholly owned Govt. of India Undertaking under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJ&E), on the recommendation of BMC.
BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary, said: “This (loan mela) is an opportunity for safaimitras to interact with experts and buy equipment/machines for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks/sewers in place of manual cleaning which will help them living a dignified and safe life.”
The Commissioner stressed upon organising workshops at different places across the city at regular intervals to create awareness and educate safaimitras and workers of informal sector on mechanised cleaning.
Today, seven ‘Safaimitras’ were loans of Rs 5 lakh each, of which they got subsidy of Rs 2.5 lakh. The loans are being provided at 4% interest rate and have to be paid back in instalments in 10 years. The interest rate will be further reduced to 3% for women.
Bandhan Nayak, a private sewermen who works in ward number 63 received loan today, felt happy and said to invest the amount in his profession. “It is definitely a big help for us as we will try to buy some machine or equipment to make our work easy and safe.”
The BMC has, so far, identified over 330 ‘Safaimitras’, and of these 50 had applied for the loan as per the NSKFDC directions.
Worth mentioning, Bhubaneswar is the first city in the State to set up a dedicated toll-free Helpline (14420) to register complaints regarding hazardous cleaning of septic tanks and sewers and to provide real-time solutions on desludging and sewer overflow. It has also organised three batches of the total eight trainings for the safaimitras identified in all the wards. PPE and other safety gear were also be provided to all the Safaimitras to ensure that they are not exposed to any danger.
Notably, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge’ on November 19, 2020 to prevent Safaimitra from ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers/septic tanks through promotion of mechanised cleaning.