BMC refuses safai karamchari study leave for TISS course

FP

For nearly a year, Sunil Yadav has been trying to take study leave from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where he works as a safai karamchari, to complete his Masters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It was only through RTI that he got to know the reason for the delay. A "safai karamchari is not qualified to avail the leave", as what he will learn is not connected to his duties, the RTI reply told him, a stipulation that is incidentally missing from the BMC rule book.

The first person from his family to have gone to college, the 33-year-old has been working as a conservancy worker with the BMC. It was on his third attempt that he managed to get enrolled into TISS's Masters (Globalisation and Labour) course of two years.

When Yadav's applications for a study leave received no reply, his course mates swung into action and sought a reply under the RTI seeking the definition of the term "employee" and asking who were eligible for a study sabbatical. In a reply in Marathi, the Public Information Officer of the D Ward of BMC said, "an academic course which is connected with his duty as a corporation employee or is in public interest then the employee may be permitted to attend such a course or a study tour. However, taking this into account, a conservancy worker is not entitled to such study leave."

Recently, Yadav, who holds a double Masters degree and diploma in social work, was shortlisted for a student exchange programme at the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg. But the recommendation can be processed only after BMC agrees to allow him to travel to South Africa and to continue with his education.

The BMC has even overlooked orders by the National Commission of Safai Karamcharis to expedite Yadav's application. "Denying/any delay in grant of study leave... may lead to refusal of admission by TISS," reads the Commission's letter to the BMC, which had on two occasions sought action taken report.

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