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The 20-lakh queue

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MORE than 20 lakh applications for around 20,000 posts. At 100 people for every post, jobs with Uttar Pradesh’s civic bodies could qualify as among the most coveted in the country.

This year, municipalities across the state have made it mandatory for applicants to the post of safai karamcharis — a contractual appointment — to clear a practical test along with an interview. While the minimum educational requirement is Class 8, since the posts were advertised in August 2016, those holding MSc, MCom and MBA degrees have been lining up, not just from Uttar Pradesh but also from Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, as well as Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.

The municipalities have been holding ‘recruitment sessions’, where a batch of candidates, ranging from 100 to 500 people, are called for an interview, after which they are given brooms and other paraphernalia and told to head for the practical test of cleaning roads and gutters — all this for a job that would earn them Rs 15,000 to Rs 17,000 a month. The applicants are photographed while they perform their tasks.

Brijesh Kumar, Executive Officer of the Mathura Nagar Palika, says the practical tests were introduced this year to check “cases of fraud”. “There have been cases earlier where people hired for these jobs have transferred it to someone else. So this year, we want to make sure candidates are up to the task.” Nearly half of the applicants, say officers, belong to upper castes.