These workers allege that they are facing hardships in managing household finances due to non-payment

Basant Praksh (53), a caretaker of a night shelter under Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), has not been paid salary for at least five months. As a result, he has not paid his rent for the past three months. On Tuesday, the owner of his rented accommodation gave him an ultimatum to leave the house.

Prakash is among several DUSIB night shelter caretakers who have not received their salaries. For Prakash and others, managing household finances has become a nightmare.

“My daughter’s wedding is on September 13. I don’t have money to even pay the rent. My other daughter has epilepsy and I don’t have money for her medicines. What should I do?” a worried Prakash asked. Prakash and his 20-year-old son Tej, who is also a caretaker at a night shelter in east Delhi, said they are owed ₹1.5 lakh to ₹2 lakh for their work respectively. Prakash said he has been working here since 2018 and his son, since 2019.

Their monthly salaries are ₹16,000 (approx) and ₹7,000 (approx) respectively, as per the minimum wages set by the government. However, their payments have been partial and irregular, alleged Prakash. “For April, May, June and July, I received ₹15,000 in my account in the last week of July. Earlier, I was getting irregular payment of ₹10,000 and ₹5,000 on any day of the month,” he said, adding that he has spoken to his supervisors but they keep stonewalling him. Rajesh Kumar (34) from Kanpur, who works at the shelter in Shahdara, said he has not been paid salary since his joining in January this year. “I was working with another NGO when I was told by a contractor that this night shelter was in a bad shape. I quit that job to come here. I cleaned the shelter but received no salary since my joining. I have got ₹5,000 on rakshabandhan,” he added.

Rajesh said he had to borrow ₹20,000 on interest from a local financier to fund his 6-year-old daughter’s treatment.“I am really worried about repaying the loan,” he said, adding that he stays in the night shelter as he can’t afford an accommodation.

Sanju from Seelampur, who works as a caretaker at a shelter in Nand Nagri, said he was last paid in April and has been receiving payments irregularly. “My latest complaint was to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal online, which I had sent in December last year. I have been working as a caretaker for the last five years and ever since the tender has been given to Sadik Masih, the payments have become a huge problem,” he said.

Sanju said he had to take a loan of ₹6,000 for getting himself enrolled in a master’s course. He is the sole breadwinner of the family of four, including his two sisters and father.

‘Due to lockdown’

Responding to the claims made by the caretakers, chief of Sadik Masih Medical Social Servant Society, Vinay Kumar, said: “We were not receiving money from DUSIB because of lack of funds during the lockdown. Now, we have slowly started receiving some amount and we will be able to pay salaries within a few days,” he said.

DUSIB member Bipin Rai said they will look into the matter.

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