December 31, 2019 2:22:18 am
IN DECEMBER 2017, a fire in a farsan shop on Khairani Road in Saki Naka claimed 12 lives. Last week, another fire in a unit in the same area claimed two lives. But even without a large-scale disaster such as a fire incident, workers in one of the city’s largest estate of industrial and small-scale informal units live with the looming danger of being victims to all kinds of accidents. Their concerns have found expression in a new collection of photographs by the workers: of their workplaces, machines they work with and hacks they are forced to invent for safety.
Ten photographs will remain part of an exhibition at Aajeevika Bureau, a non-profit initiative, for the whole month. Six workers, employed in units in and around Khairani Road and other areas of Saki Naka and Kurla, have photographed their machines, workplaces and the jugaad they must invent for their own safety.
Ramesh Prajapati, who works at a unit where a drill machine is constantly used, talks about a metal sheet he has installed on the machine to ensure it does not slip and damage his hands. “I usually keep a jute sack on my legs as the pipe-cutting machine I work with can slip and the metal parts may fall on my legs,” says another worker, Zeeshan Ahmed, who works at Anees Compound in the area.
A caption by the workers with the photographs says they would prefer that the machines are made safer by the employers. The exhibition was planned to celebrate International Migrants’ Day on December 22.
“Large incidents like the Anaj Mandi fire in Delhi earlier this month, which claimed 43 lives or the Khairani Road fire in 2017, make it to the public discourse for a while. But the more everyday risks that workers face from their machines or hanging electric wires, pose grave danger to them daily,” said Raghav Mehrotra, researcher with Aajeevika.
“Authorities are approached with complaints usually when there is a death or loss of limb. Through asking workers to take photographs and discussions around it, the attempt was to bring attention to occupational safety and their own understanding of what risks they take,” Mehrotra said.
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