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Travancore Devaswom Board, devotees decry delay in payment of wages to sanitation workers

The Travancore Devaswom Board and various devotees’ organisations have taken strong exception to the undue delay on the part of the district administration in disbursing the wages of 900 Tamil sanitation workers who were deployed by the Sabarimala Sanitation Society (SSS) at Sabarimala, Pampa, Nilackal and Pandalam for 71 days during the annual pilgrim season that came to a close on January 21.

N.Vasu, TDB President, said the board was all praise for the valuable service done by these sanitation workers from Tamil Nadu.

Mr Vasu said TDB used to release funds to SSS chaired by the Pathanamthitta Collector every year on a reimbursement basis. However, the board had not yet received any communication in this regard from the SSS, he said.

He said the board was pained to know that the poor workers were yet to receive their wages for no fault of theirs. He said the workers brought from Madurai, Theni, Kalladaikurichi, Salem, Cumbom, etc, in Tamil Nadu were the backbone of the government’s cleaning initiative at Sabarimala and any delay in disbursing their wages had no justification at all.

Mr Vasu said he had already directed the board officials to consult the District Collector, P.B.Noohu, and take necessary steps to provide the fund required, if any, for disbursing the workers’ wages with out any further delay.

Administration flayed

Meanwhile, the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) and Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajom (SASS) have accused the district administration of taking a step-motherly attitude towards Sabarimala and the sanitation workers.

Akkeeramon Kalidasan Bhattathirippad, SASS president, and N.Velayudhan Nair, ABASS general secretary, alleged that the daily wage of ₹400 fixed for the 24-hour cleaning work at Sabarimala was too low compared to the wage of a worker fixed by the State Government. Delaying even this “pittance” amounted to criminal indifference, they alleged.

“Can you get a worker in Kerala for doing this job at such a low daily wage,’’ they asked.

Meanwhile, the Revenue Divisional Officer and SSS member secretary, P.T.Abraham, said the society did not face any dearth of funds. The bill was pending clearance at the collectorate finance wing, he said.

Mr Abraham further clarified that the supervisors posted by the Revenue Department had unmistakably entered the daily attendance of each SSS worker at Sabarimala.

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