Updated 05th November 2020 | 10:22 IST
With the Bombay supreme court directing the BMC to pay salaries with arrears to its visually impaired employees who didn’t receive it during the lockdown, the affected employees hope the authorities become more compassionate and empathetic. the workers said they felt cheated and disappointed by the civic body.
The BMC had issued a circular on May 25 giving visually impaired employees leave under the Municipal Services Act. But under the Act, if these employees have spent sanctioned leaves, they won’t get a salary if they are doing not report back to work, it said.
Dilip Zanwar, a 40-year-old BMC room operator, is among the 250 visually impaired employees working within the civic body. He said the circular deemed people like him expendable. “We had to approach the court after our multiple requests to satisfy senior officials, letters fell on deaf ears,” he said.
The National Association for the Blind (NAB) on behalf of the nearly 250 employees had filed a PIL within the HC against the circular. The HC on October 28 directed the civic body to compensate the workers and clear the arrears.
Pointing out how difficulties compounded during the pandemic, Atul (name changed), who has been working within the BMC for over two years, said, “Because of Covid-19, our two main senses — touch and smell — to navigate the planet were restricted. Fear of infection and wish for physical distancing has affected even simple outdoor chores. Earlier, I could touch hand railings at stations, walls and obtain help from people. the opposite day, it took me half an hour to only cross the road, nobody volunteered to assist. I don’t blame people; most are scared to assist due to the infection.”
Nearly 70 per cent of the visually impaired people are employed at ward-level offices, mostly as telephone operators, control personnel etc.
A clause during a circular issued on April 21 by the overall administration department clearly mentioned special consideration tends to employees with disabilities who needn’t report for duty.
On the May 25 circular, another visually impaired employee said, “Administration shouldn’t cheat us like this. Earlier, a concession was promised, then it had been reversed. During the pandemic, everyone faced financial difficulties, this is often not the way a government body should be treating us.”
The 250 employees couldn’t report back to work from March 23 to June 15. Many started reporting to figure from June 16 when local trains resumed for essential service employees. “We understand buses were arranged for workers during the lockdown, but we can’t be picked up from homes. This meant we’ve to rearrange for transport to succeed in the pick-up spots. there have been no autorickshaws during the initial lockdown phases, there was a curfew in many areas, how was the civic body expecting us to report back to work,” asked Zanwar, who travels from Vangani to Dadar.