New Delhi: The Delhi High Court directed all the municipal and civic bodies in the national capital to inform it about the welfare schemes as well as equipment being provided to sanitation workers, noting that no one appeared to be bothered about their plight.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also ordered the local authorities to find out the illness and injuries suffered by the workers in their line of work and place the data before the court on the next date of hearing on September 19.
The court said that a matter regarding prevention of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of persons engaged in the work was before another bench of the high court since 1998, but till date “nothing has been done” by the authorities.
“No one is bothered about these people,” the bench said, while also seeking details of the equipment and other gear provided, if any, to the workers.
The observations by the bench came while issuing notice to the local authorities, the Delhi government and the Centre seeking their stand on the issue which has been raised before the court by a municipal councilor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
The petition by Abhishek Dutt has alleged that proper equipment and apparatus has not been provided to the safai karamchaaris leading to deaths and injuries while cleaning the drains in the city.
The petition, filed through advocates Ashima Mandal and Mandakini, has also claimed that 877 workers have died on the job in the past five years in the four zones of the SDMC alone. Taking note of the submissions, the bench directed the authorities to “conduct enquiries with regard to illness and injuries suffered by safai karamcharis in the line of work and place a status report before us in four weeks”.
The court said the report will also “indicate the treatment provided to them by the authorities” as well as “the welfare schemes in place for the workers and the manner in which they are being implemented”. The PIL has sought directions to the authorities to provide protective gear and other equipment to the safai karamcharis and also improve their working conditions.
Apart from that the plea has also sought regular medical checkup of the workers and an investigation into the cause of the numerous fatalities.