The civic authorities stand accused of not practising what they preach.
While the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is cracking down on unsafe buildings, it is providing accommodation for 15,000 sweepers in around 15 unsafe residential blocks across the city.
“It’s a pity that despite the Centre pumping in millions to improve the quality of life of sweepers, nothing has changed for those employed by the CMC. The houses they live in can collapse any time,” said Santosh Chaudhury, the chairperson of National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
Metro found the condition of one such building, declared unsafe 15 years ago, in New Market just as she had described. The cracked roof looked like it would collapse any moment. During her trip to the quarters, Chaudhury found out that as many as 15 people were living in a room.
She even took up the matter with mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya after a survey of the labour quarters on Judges Court Road, Cossipore Road, and AJC Bose Road.
“It’s a fact that these houses lack any maintenance and a disaster is just waiting to happen,” said Prabhakar Mondal, a former CPM councillor from New Market.
Most of the people living in these CMC quarters are from neighbouring states. Giving them accommodation is an age-old tradition, which the CMC is still following.
“But CMC hasn’t spent anything for their upkeep for several years and that’s why the buildings are in such a state,” said an engineer in the building department.
“The drive against unsafe buildings in the city should start from the CMC quarters,” added the official.
Joint civic commissioner Sahidul Islam said the CMC is trying to shift the sweepers to safer buildings. “We have proposed a large housing complex on Judges Court Road for the resettlement of sweepers living in the labour quarters next to New Market,” Islam said.