After verifying documents of the 1,600 conservancy workers who had moved court seeking to be made permanent civic employees, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has found less than 200 of them to have valid papers. The BMC has now asked the Bombay High Court for a three-month extension to the deadline for absorbing the workers. On April 7 this year, the Supreme Court, ruling in favour of the conservancy workers, had directed the BMC to extend benefits accorded to permanent staff to those who had completed 240 days of service.
The document verification of the 1,600 workers of the solid waste management department was carried out last month by a three-member panel headed by deputy municipal commissioner Vijay Balamwar. “After completing the verification, we found that only 191 of them have valid documents. The remaining fall within two categories — those who have some documents with matching details, and others whose details don’t match at all. We have asked for another three months to comply with the orders of the High Court and the Supreme Court,” said the official. The next hearing is scheduled for August 29.
The official added that they are yet to calculate the total number of workers who have documents with multiple discrepancies, and need some time to do so. “A significant number of the workers had mismatched documents, with details that are different from our records. We are trying to re-verify their documents. As for those who have a minimum of two valid documents without any error, we will convert them into permanent employees provided they sign an indemnity bond,” said the official.
The indemnity bond, he explained, will result in the forfeiture of their employment if another claimant comes forward or if the employees’ records are found to be fraudulent. Objecting to the system of verification taken up by the BMC, Milind Ranade, general secretary of the Kachra Vahtuk Shramik Sangh (KVSS), said, “If the verification has already been conducted once and the High Court and the Supreme Court have recognised it, why does the BMC need to take up the process all over again? This goes against the Supreme Court order. The BMC is doing this only to deny the rights of the conservancy workers.”
Other members of the union also pointed out that the BMC started the verification more than 80 days after the SC’s order, which was issued on April 7. The case had first been filed with the Industrial Tribunal, which had ruled in favour of the conservancy workers in October, 2014. The BMC had then challenged the order in the Bombay High Court and later in the Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court’s order.