World Minorities Alliance (WMA): Press Release on Sikandar Masih's Death

Hundreds of sewerage cleaners of Capital Development Authority (CDA) Sunday gathered here to condemn CDA Chairman’s attitude toward the aggrieved family of Sikandar Masih. Sikandar had died four days ago for inhaling the toxic sewer gas while opening a blocked sewage pipe in sector I-9/4 and lost his life in line of his duty. Sikandar’s death was mainly [caused] by the non-provision of necessary equipment like oxygen cylinder, rope and above all the safety mask.
Since then the family had refused to bury the dead body until the CDA Chairman personally visits the family and announces due compensation and provision of safety equipment to all sewage cleaners.
Addressing the gathering, J Salik said the indifferent attitude of CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal is more disturbing for the community of sewage workers who feel their lives at risk while being on duty.
He said the foremost demand is the retraction of outsource agreements under which hundreds of sewerage cleaners have been put at the mercy of three CDA’s favorite contractors.
They demanded the CDA should hold thorough investigation into the irregularities in the sewage department.
They said the engagement of contractors has led to the creation of ghost employees as almost 50 percent of employees usually remain absent from duties.
Salik said since last 16 years, the CDA has failed to issue identity cards to the sewage cleaners to prove them as CDA employees.
In absence of cards, the workers feel themselves depressed, though the CDA had planned to enroll all sewage cleaners in 2008, but the process remained incomplete.
Under the law, the sanitation workers are provided safety masks, oxygen cylinders and rope to hang down into the 20-feet deep drain, but unfortunate Sikandar Masih lacked all these equipment.
“We would not bury the dead body until the CDA allots a residential plot to all victim families and the sanitation workers are provided safety masks and other equipment,” demanded the workers asking the CDA authorities to have friendly ties with low-income workers.
J Salik said besides Sikandar, other two workers including Nadeem Masih and Ilyas Masih also dies due to the very reasons and in total around eight CDA workers have lost their lives for breathing in the sewer gas.
He said in 2008, the CDA had promised to retract outsource agreements and had allocated Rs160 million for purchase of sanitation machinery but the commitment is yet unfulfilled.
Salik said the CDA has also failed to fulfill its commitment for providing model shelters for minorities, model bin bays and other necessary facilities for the sanitation workers and the protest will continue until all demands are met.
J.Salik was praying the departed soul by  putting dust in his head when CDA chairman called him to apologized for sad incident.
CDA chairman requested to J.Salik to give up his protest and reached the home of the deceased boy. CDA chairman and J.Salik discussed all the issues and both of them agreed that they were promised and to solve workers problems in peacefull manners.
He regretted  that he  could not reached  because  he has gone to turkey. Soon on his return he has come to visit the site he promised the family of the unfortunate boy would be duly compensated. He also promised to give sympathetic consideration to demands of the  sanitation staff. He thanks the J.Salik for his patient attitude. He announced that proper inquiry will be conducted in to the incident. He also announced that family of those who earlier died incident would also be compensated. He said the CDA sanitation staff would be provided with equipment and no worker would be given a task if he is not well equipped.
J.Salik appreciated chairman CDA for his positive attitude in solving workers problems With such attitude we can work together to solve all problems being faced by the workers.
The funeral of sikander Masih will be held on Monday 19 March in hill road F/6-2 Islamabad at 3:00 Pm.
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