August 22nd, 2017
As a result of 10 people dying while cleaning sewers in the capital of the country, the Delhi government on Monday, August 21, announced a blanket ban on manual cleaning of sewers and threatened that anyone found violating the rule will be booked under culpable homicide.
The announcement was made by Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam. He also said that a committee had been set up within 15 days to find out the best possible ways or machines to clean the gutters.
“They will submit their report in 15 days which will be tabled before the Lt Governor in the next meeting,” he said, as per Business Standard.
The new directions came after Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Monday called for a high-level meeting over the recent deaths during sewer cleaning. It was attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi PWD Minister Satyendra Jain and Gautam along with officials of the departments concerned.
“It was decided in the meeting that no person will be allowed to go inside the gutter for sewer cleaning under any circumstances. There will be a complete ban on it. We will also put up hoardings in this regard,” Gautam told reporters.
“It is very unfortunate and shameful that people are losing their lives while cleaning sewers manually in the country’s capital,” he said, adding that rules already exist that sewers should not be cleaned manually but they are not adhered to.
Previously, the contractor or engineer found guilty of hiring manual scavengers would be booked under negligence, but now the move will attract the punishment for culpable homicide.
Earlier, the minister had issued notifications for installing hoardings discouraging manual cleaning of sewers and tanks but it wasn’t followed properly and another person died as a consequence.
He added that there have been several cases where people privately hired labourers to clean sewer tanks at their houses or at shopping malls, leading to mishaps.
On August 12, two brothers died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewage tank without a safety gear at Aggarwal Fun City Mall in East Delhi. Their father, who was helping them clean the sewage tank and a firefighter who was trying to rescue the three, were also hospitalised in a critical condition.
Before that, three more sanitation workers had died due to asphyxiation while cleaning a Department of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) drain in South-east Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. The labourers had entered a ten-foot-deep manhole without any safety guard.
The Logical Indian take
Manual scavenging is modern-day slavery and the fact that the practice exists in the 21st century is unacceptable. Most of the sanitation workers get down in deep pits without a bare minimum safety gear. They are exposed to harmful gases and filth. Working in such inhuman conditions which lead to deaths is absolutely condemnable and the thoughts of The Logical Indian community complies along the same lines.
The Delhi government’s decision to book the people resorting to hiring manual scavengers under culpable homicide is welcoming as the act is equal to pushing them to their deaths.