Over A Month After 200 Sewer Cleaning Machines Were Flagged Off, Kin Of Victims Receive Machines
Over a month after the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi flagged off 200 sewer cleaning machines in a bid to stop manual scavenging, the first two machines have finally been handed over to the kin of some of the workers who died while cleaning sewers. This decision came after the national capital saw a slew of manual scavenging related deaths in a span of a few short years.
Kin receives machine
The Delhi Jal Board has selected 200 ‘owner-contractors’ and the first eight to get the machines will be the kin of those who died while inhaling toxic fumes of the sewers. The machines have been fitted with equipment for hydraulic, jetting, grabbing and roding work and can clean manholes which are up to 30 feet deep. Moreover, they have been equipped to enter the narrow bylanes of Delhi.
According to The Indian Express, 62-year-old Maya Kaur who had lost her son in 2017 and Gurmeet Kaur, whose husband also died in the Ghitorni incident, became the first two recipients of the machine which are finally up and running.
Maya told the daily, “The machines are working. A different company is running them for us, but we have seen the machines and have been told that we will earn at least Rs 35,000 per month from the contracts that the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) will give us.” By ‘company’ she is referring to a group of people who have got the machine and are being monitored by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).
National working president, DICCI, R K Narra said that the consortium was formed to help assist people in coordinating with DJB as not many people know how to. For the machines, 250 drivers and 500 helpers have been hired, all of whom will be paid minimum wages.
“We hired more drivers and helpers than the number of machines as they need to be out on the roads every day, as per the contract with the DJB,” Narra added. Moreover, the DJB has also made it clear that money earned by every allottee will be transferred to their bank accounts directly.
Apart from that, people belonging to Scheduled caste will also get the machines. While one survivor and seven next of kin will receive them for free, others will receive financial assistance, reported The Hindu.
The Logical Indian take
Manual scavenging is modern-day slavery. That it continues in the 21st century India is something that should horrify and outrage us all. At the same time, it is important that we ensure that further deaths due to manual scavenging do not occur.
The Prohibition of Manual Scavengers Act should be implemented with more efficiency; the governments at the centre and the states should establish that manual scavenging will not be tolerated and lawbreakers will be punished. Also, alternate means of employment should be generated for the impoverished people who are forced to become manual scavengers due to lack of alternatives means of livelihood.
While this is definitely a move in the right direction, more needs to be done to ensure accountability and rehabilitation of the manual scavenger and their families in India.