Twenty-one disabled workers, employed by the NGO Entrepreneurship Development And Rehabilitation Centre for the Handicapped (EDARCH), are in dire straits after a watchman deployed at the centre made away with the dies used to manufacture plastic materials by them. The theft took place on May 10.
The EDARCH employees have accused Prakash Gaikwad, the watchman the centre hired some two months ago, of the theft. According to them, Gaikwad, who was deployed at the workhouse in Natawadi at Shivaji Nagar, made away with 15 dies, which are specialised tools used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press, just minutes after completing his shift.
The booty comprised 11 small two-kg dies costing Rs 9,000 each and four big six-kg dies worth Rs 25,000 each. Dilip Deshpande, president of EDARCH, said that the workers have been left unemployed since the theft. “Our disabled workers have been sitting idle. We are afraid that the companies whom we have tied up with might switch to some other firm as they are not getting the required components from us,” said Deshpande.
S Kamble, the second watchman at the centre who works the night shift, said that on the day of the theft he had seen Gaikwad leaving the premises with a sack full of dies. “Upon enquiring, he said that Deshpande had told him to deliver the dies at his office at Wakadewadi. I didn’t suspect his motive and allowed him to leave,” Kamble said.
It will cost the NGO about Rs 2 lakh to purchase 15 new dies. The centre, which is short of funds, has managed to purchase a new die for the time being. This has allowed the workers to restart their work since Monday. The centre has lodged a complaint at the Shivaji Nagar police station.
“Even if he (Gaikwad) sells the machines to a scrap dealer, he won’t earn more than Rs 100 per piece, as for them it is just a piece of metal. But the workers who have lost their livelihood are skilled, honest and disciplined.
Unfortunately, we are just an independent body working for the benefit of the poor disabled and do not receive grants from the government,” said Deshpande. The police said investigations were on. “Investigations are on and we are in the process of arresting the culprit,” said Police Inspector (Crime) Seema Mehendale of the Shivaji Nagar police station.
Employment to 21 disabled workers
EDARCH runs a small workhouse which provides employment to about 21 disabled workers, including blind, deaf, mentally challenged and orthopedically handicapped people. These workers operate one fully automatic, two semi-automatic, four hand-operated plastic injection machines and a couple of paper-shredding machines. Using these machines, workers prepare plastic components and packaging materials that are supplied to companies like Kirloskar Oil Engines, Sudarshan Chemical Indutries, Cummins India and Sigma Power, among others, in the city. Doing the casting work, each employee would earn up to Rs 2,000 a month.
If you wish to help in any way, contact EDARCH on 9823082671, 8888877287, or 25538597