Monday, November 08, 2004

Sweeper body to cost exchequer Rs 50 lakh

Amitabh Shukla
New Delhi, November 8

The Delhi government has burdened the exchequer by around Rs 50 lakh by constituting a new commission for safai karamcharis (sweepers). Officials say the constitution of such a commission was unprecedented as no other state has a similar council.

The decision was taken last week by the Delhi government cabinet to appease a sizeable section of the votebank. Though the commission aims to ameliorate the grievances of sweepers across the state, officials say it would become another white elephant, like some other government departments.

The new commission will comprise of a chairman with a consolidated salary of Rs 26,000. This is the highest in the government hierarchy. There will be two part-time members and a secretary, an IAS officer, to look into the affairs. There will also be a deputy director from the Delhi Andaman Nicobar Island Civil Services (DANICS) and an office superintendent as well as 13 more employees.

While the government estimates that Rs 30 lakh will be spent annually on salaries alone, the total expenditure that the commission would incur in a year is Rs 50 lakhs. One of the Congress MLAs from the dalit community will be made chairman of the commission in the next few days.

“We already have a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe commission, which specifically looks into the problems of the dalits. As most of the safai karamcharis are dalits, there was no need for this commission,” a senior officer said.

The officer also said that a separate cell for sweepers in the SC/ST commission could have not only solved the issue but also saved the government almost Rs 50 lakh per annum.

“But administrative prudence has been forgotten due to political expediency,” he added.


Only in Delhi

** Commission would comprise of chairman (consolidated salary of Rs 26,000), two part-time members, a secretary (IAS officer), a deputy director from the DANICS, an office superintendent and 13 more employees

** A Congress MLA from the dalit community to be made chairman of the commission in the next few days

** According to government estimates, Rs 30 lakh would be spent annually on salaries while the total expenditure incurred annually would be Rs 50 lakh

Source: Hindustan Times, November 8, 2004

Amitabh Shukla seems to nurse several grouses: that someone could imagine sweepers needing a commission to look into their problems, that the chairman of such a lowly commission could be paid so high (how else does one interpret Amitabh's moaning about this Chairman's salary being "the highest in the government hierarchy." In a hierarchy , not everyone get paid equally, right?)

Besides, if one goes by Amitabh's convenient cynicism (the commission will anyway not do anything useful, so why spend tax money on it?) which barely masks his apathy for the sweepers, what stops the sweepers (except the fact that they depend on such work for their livelihood) from saying, "How much ever we clean up your streets, you're anyway going to dirty them, so we could as well take a break"?

If this measure constitutes appeasement of a sizeable section of the votebank (the toiling masses), cleaning up posh locales certainly constitutes appeasing the rich! There's a difference between bowing to unreasonable demands (appeasing) and ameliorating the rightful grievances of the toilers.
Too bad for him, Amitabh doesn't seem to understand this!


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