Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan today pitched for a parity in salaries of sanitation staff and IAS officers, saying the government should do it if people engaged in cleaning works have to be given dignity. At a meeting of the labour wing of his Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Paswan also demanded that the practice of cleaning of sewerage and drainage by sanitation workers manually be declared a crime as it at times leads to their death, caused by noxious gases. He told reporters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done “historic” work by emphasising on cleanliness and ensuring that even senior government officers take brooms to participate in sanitation drives.
But those really doing the work continue to live in pitiable circumstances, he lamented. “Such a system needs to be upended. For this I demand that if we have to give respect to sanitation workers, if we believe in dignity of labour, then their salaries should not be less than IAS officers,” the LJP chief said. Dignity of labour exists in countries outside but not in India, he said. Paswan, who has emerged as the NDA’s government’s voice on Dalit issues, also batted for 15 per cent quota for the poor among the ‘upper castes’, saying they also need reservation benefits.
He also said that ‘anganwadi’ works should be given at least the minimum salary notified in the state they are working in as their current monthly emolument of Rs 3,000 is too low. His son and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan said his party had been fighting for the rights of the poor sections of society and noted that it has gone to the Supreme Court for a review of its order on SC and ST (prevention of atrocities) Act. The LJP would not allow any tinkering with reservation benefits, he said.