New Delhi: The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) on Tuesday said 64 people have died while cleaning sewers in Delhi since 1993, with 38 such deaths taking place in the last two years. NCSK chairman Manhar Valjibhai Zala claimed the Delhi government has not been implementing the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, and was sending out a wrong message to the rest of the country.
Delhi’s Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, however, said the city government has ensured effective implementation of the Act and the deaths occurred in septic tanks of malls and high-rises which are inaccessible to sewer-cleaning machines of the Delhi Jal Board.
The minister said his government has put an end to manual scavenging and was exploring alternative ways to clean septic tanks in malls and buildings. He said,
The issue should not be politicised and everyone should join hands to put an end to the abominable practice. We built ‘Mangalyaan’, we should also explore new technologies for sewer cleaning.
After a review meeting with the officials of the Delhi government, Mr. Zala said 38 sewer deaths have taken place in Delhi alone in the last two years and 64 deaths have taken place in the city since 1993. Of the 64 people who died while cleaning sewers, the state government has given compensation of Rs 10 lakh to 46 families.”
The panel asked the Delhi administration to provide compensation to rest of the families within a week. A survey conducted last year said there are 50 manual scavengers in Delhi, but “nothing has been done for their rehabilitation.
Mr. Zala and other members of the NCSK also targeted the Arvind Kejriwal government over non-implementation of the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme in the national capital.
The non-implementation of the scheme deprived sanitation workers of all health benefits, he alleged.
To this, Mr. Gautam said,
Delhi has got a better scheme than Ayushman Bharat which cannot be implemented in the national capital because the average income of Delhiites is higher than those residing in other states. There should be no competition among governments on the issue. It’s shameful for everyone if a person dies while cleaning sewer. There should be no politics over it, he said.
NCSK member Gangaram Ghosre claimed that the Delhi government had promised to employ manual scavengers on 200 sewer-cleaning machines procured last year, but only 38 such people have got the job.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.