CM Naveen Patnaik Inspires by launching ‘GARIMA’ welfare scheme for Sanitation Workers
The Odisha government under the leadership of CM Naveen Pattanaik, on 11 September 2020 launched a one-of-a-kind welfare scheme for the state’s sanitation workers. Named “Garima”, the scheme is set to enhance the dignity of the state’s core sanitation who have helped Odisha stay firm on hygiene and sanitation during the COVID19 pandemic.
Sanitation workers have been a crucial part of the Indian society since ages. Whether it’s the modern sweepers or the still prevalent manual scavengers, this underdeveloped section of the society has been overlooked and discriminated for a long time. In earlier times, sanitation and manual scavenging were thought to be a work apt for the lower castes and the workers were the victims of caste discrimination in the old social order.
Even though the Indian constitution has moved on from caste discrimination, many Indians still stick to the caste system. As result sanitation workers are seen with a very condescending eye. Sanitation workers are deprived of the most basic rights of safety, equality, education, and freedom even today. Many in the villages are still forced to live in social exclusion and do not enjoy a good standard of life. From social security to financial freedom, Sanitation workers are often the last to get these benefits.
The COVID 19 pandemic has all of us on the edge of our seats regarding sanitary conditions and hygiene to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. This general fear in society has brought sanitation workers to the fore as frontline workers. In the long process of sanitation and disinfection, the sanitation workers have been working day and night to keep community spaces clean and virus free. During the last rites of COVID-19 patients too, sanitation workers help the families while keeping their safety on the secondary.
If there is a time when sanitation workers need government support and recognition for their contribution to the COVID 19 battle, it is now. Therefore, the Odisha government’s GARIMA scheme is particularly lauded and well received. The Odisha government has initially aimed to cover 20,000 sanitation workers and their families. The state government has decided to set aside Rs 50 crore corpus fund for the scheme and implement it through various facets in 114 Urban Local Bodies.
Keeping the present situation in mind, the corpus fund will provide PPE kits and advanced machinery for the sanitation workers reinforcing their safety while at work. The government will also take care of upskilling the existing sanitation workers so that they can be aware of their safety while doing their job. Benefits of the Garima Scheme also include access to EPF, post-retirement benefits, financial aid to the family in case of an accident, and special category wages. The state government will support the workers by lending support for mobility, education, health check-ups, housing, and health insurance.
The Chief Minister of Odisha is a visionary leader who has been leading Odisha as an undisputed popular CM for five consecutive terms. His vision for a developed Odisha and welfare schemes for people of the grassroots level have made him the people’s CM. The Garima Scheme is also one such welfare scheme that is aimed to grant dignity and security for an overlooked part of the society.