Monday, June 21, 2010

Who'll save Bangalore's saviours?

Who'll save Bangalore's saviours?

Members of BBMP's response team have absolutely no skills to handle tricky situations

Shilpa CB. Bangalore

Did you know that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has an emergency squad, whose primary job is to avoid accidents like six-year-old Abhishek Prakash, who slipped and drowned in an open drain in Lingarajapuram last year.
The team, which has some 40-odd men working in two shifts, is the one that responds to your calls whenever there is a rain problem.
The team works from 6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am on a daily wage of Rs200 each. It is the private contractors who hire them for the BBMP. The criterion is simple: Anyone fit and willing to spend time at the civic agency's control room is good for the job.
Specialised training? Well, that can wait. "The contractor's responsibility is merely to provide 20 men per shift. It can be anyone. They need not be the same people who worked the previous day or night," an engineer with the BBMP told DNA on condition of anonymity.
"The emergency squad members are guided by senior BBMP officers. They (squad members) know nothing. Their every move is determined by an officer. If he (the officer) orders a mound of trash to be cleared, then they will have to do it," said another official who mans BBMP's control room.
These men do not have any specific skills. They do a range of jobs like clearing tree logs and obstructions that clog the drains, closing open manholes, filling dangerous potholes, removing banners and clearing rainwater from a locality.
It is left to each man what he wants to do while on emergency duty.
"We don't need any special training. We've been part of NSS (National Service Scheme) and NCC (National Cadet Corps) in school. That's plenty of experience," said Surya Mallappa, one of the youngest members in current squad.
What about tricky situations like Abhishek? "We are confident of doing any job given to us. If the work is too risky, we take more people. There is strength in numbers," Mallappa said.
Most of the skill is acquired on the job. "We hail from villages where we have done most of these jobs," said another member when asked about how they gain expertise in handling rain-related emergencies.BBMP's control room in-charge refused to dwelve on the issue, and senior officials were not available for comment.


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