Coronavirus outbreak: No sanitisers for BMC's sweepers at Kastuba hospital

Updated: Mar 23, 2020, 08:00 IST | Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Sweepers employed by the civic body to clean Kasturba Hospital, have demanded sanitisers to use right after work, but claim they were instead told to wash up at the local ward booths

BMC sweepers of D ward on their way to collect garbage at Kasturba Hospital
BMC sweepers of D ward on their way to collect garbage at Kasturba Hospital

Sweepers deployed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to clean Kasturba Hospital, which is where initially many Coronavirus positive and suspect patients were admitted, have claimed they are not getting sanitisers to use right after work. The sweepers, who are BMC employees, claimed that the hospital authorities ask them to go to their ward booth's office to wash their hands and legs. The sweepers have demanded a bottle of sanitiser each, to use right after their work, before going to their booths to wash up, as these are a little away from the hospital.

On Saturday mid-day visited BMC ward booths in South Mumbai where sweepers who work at Kasturba Hospital wash up. Every day, the 280 sweepers (from A to E wards) visit the booths four times a day for attendance at 6.00 am, 11.00 am, 1.00 pm, 2.00 pm as per shifts, and 6.00 pm after work. Many sweepers who also work in other places also wash up here.

JO Vishwas Sawant (in red shirt) with the only bottle of hand sanitiser that he was given
JO Vishwas Sawant (in red shirt) with the only bottle of hand sanitiser that he was given

B-Ward SWM Booth
At 1.00 pm mid-day visited a booth at B ward. Neither of the sweepers there had sanitisers. A sweeper said, "I clean Kasturba Hospital where patients infected with Coronavirus are admitted. But after cleaning the hospital we sweepers are told to go to our booth office to wash up. We should get at least a single pocket bottle of sanitiser that we can use right after cleaning the hospital and roads." Sweepers fear they might touch their faces accidentally before they reach the booths, and so have demanded sanitisers.

Due to the Coronavirus threat, the BMC has deployed many sweepers from A to E wards to Kasturba Hospital to clean it and its surroundings.

C-Ward Motor Loader dept
At 1.30 pm mid-day visited the C ward's Motor Loader Department, where sweepers collect garbage from Kasturba Hospital and other areas. The Junior Overseas officer (JO) Vishwas Sawant, who is in charge, said that since Coronavirus was detected in the city, he has been given only a 100 ml sanitiser bottle.

Sawant told mid-day, "Our staff collects garbage from across the city and hospitals, and is not given a single sanitiser bottle to clean their hands after work. Every sweeper should get at least one pocket sanitiser bottle so he can use it to avoid Coronavirus."

"We have over 200 sweepers who work in two shifts and I have only one 100 ml bottle sanitiser. Even if I give a drop to each sweeper, it won't be sufficient. I have requested the superior officer for sanitisers," Sawant added.

D-ward booth
At 2.00 pm mid-day visited the D ward office at Tardeo, which also did not have sanitisers. When asked how people could enter the booth without using sanitisers, Junior Overseas (JO) Raju Parmar, the booth in charge replied, "We were using sanitisers, they just finished yesterday." But a sweeper who entered the booth said, "Sanitisers are a very costly product and not for sweepers. We manage to clean our hands and legs with soap and water. We had asked the superior to give a pocket bottle of sanitiser, as we regularly clean Kasturba Hospital, but they said we have to manage with soap and water."

Despite repeated attempts to contact a health officer of the BMC and the Kasturba Hospital in charge for sweepers, there was no response from them.

Rs 9,000
Range at which a sweeper's salary starts

No. of sweepers from A to E wards who work in Kasturba Hospital

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