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The Street Sweeper
|by Hari Lakhera|
Walking in the Morning - 4
Continued from "The Security Guard"
Arjan Singh sweeps the 500-meter street in front of our complex. He is a Municipal employee. He is always on his job at 5 in the morning. By the time I go out at about 6 a. m. half of the street is clean of all the sundry garbage that includes plastic bags, pouches, leaves, papers mostly thrown by ‘we the people.’ Sweepers are expected to clean the streets before 6 a. m. so as not to inconvenience the public in general and morning walkers in particular.
Arjan singh, his mouth and nose covered by a thin clothe, a long broom in his hands is one of the handful of Municipal employees who take their job seriously. I have not seen him absent any day come winter or rains.
Employees of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)are infamous for the absenteeism. There have been reports of absentee employees and the figure is staggering. Some 50000 employees on the rolls of MCD in the health and horticulture departments exist on paper only They exist only in the pay register From top to bottom everybody takes his or her share from this loot. The fraud came in the notice of the Commissioner when he introduced Photo Smart Cards for all employees to record their attendance in office. There was a lot of hue and cry but he stood to his ground. He had probably sensed the malice.
It was found that one employee was drawing salary for 10 to 15 people in different names. Such employee had in turn employed some proxy in his place to do the sweeping job for him and he himself was engaged in some other more profitable activity. This could not have been possible without the active support of the Inspector who was responsible to take the roll call and mark attendance of employees in his charge.
The loot was possibly shared with the area councilor, the MLA and the MP. The Commissioner made it mandatory for each employee to have a photo identity Smart Card, mark his attendance at the local MCD office and his salary was sent by ECS transfer in his account in the Bank.
We were, however talking our Arjan Singh. He was definitely cut above all others. Never saw him absent. He would sweep the street, collect the garbage in his trolley and drop it the dumping site from where the MCD garbage truck would collect it.
There are about 20 vegetables and fruits vendors who line up the street in the evening. These vendors are legal in the sense that they are allowed to do their business from six in to ten in the evening. However it is totally up to the councilor to grant such permission. Since the numbers are limited, the poor vendors have no choice but to pay him his weekly ‘allowance’ popularly known as 'hafta'. The area police constable takes his cut too. Then there is the loan shark who finances these vendors for the vegetable cart costing some Rs 4000 in fixed expenses and another Rs 2000 for running the daily business.
These vendors come from the rural Bihar with no money and therefore no choice but to borrow from this shark who charges interest @2.5 % per month payable every day along with loan installment. No wonder the vegetable retail prices are some three times of the wholesale prices.
Arjan Singh comes into picture here for the simple reason that he has to clean the left over discarded and spoiled vegetables and fruits. It is for the vendors to clean the area before they leave but they seem to have collectively entered into an agreement with Arjan Singh to do the job for them and the remuneration is fixed in kind or cash. Arjan Singh finishes this job before he goes home in the night. This seems to be a clear and honest job and cannot be termed as taking advantage of his position in the street.
There are very few Arjan Singhs who do their job with dedication and honesty.
Continued to "Ashu Bhature Wala"
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03/06/2013 08:50 AM