Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday (May 13), warned officials of stringent action if deaths occurred during the cleaning of sewers and cesspools, and directed municipal administration officials to work with commitment and a sense of humaneness to prevent deaths of workers.
Though the state has excellent growth indicators, it is very distressing that deaths still occur during the cleaning of sewers or cesspools, he said and sought appropriate measures to end this injustice.
Speaking at a review meeting at the Secretariat here on measures taken to prevent the deaths of manual scavengers, he said although Tamil Nadu is a developed state with good growth indicators, it lags behind in one aspect. He said,
The number of people who die while cleaning sewage tanks is high. This is very painful. It is the responsibility of this government to avoid it.
Urging the officials to put some thought into the issue, the Chief Minister said the practice of getting underground sewers and cesspools cleaned by humans is a disgrace to humanity. He said,
Such deaths mostly take place in urban areas.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in his presence by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) on February 20 with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to prevent the loss of life of workers — who tend to be from the marginalised community — while cleaning sewage tanks.
In the last budget, it was announced that Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for the ‘Annal Ambedkar Entrepreneurship Scheme’ to encourage Dalits to become entrepreneurs, Stalin said.
As a part of the scheme, it is planned to use modern machines and tools to clean sewage tanks in Chennai metropolitan area.
I request the Additional Chief Secretary, Municipal Administration Department, to make this project fully operational in the next four months. Also, without waiting for this new project, the officials should act keeping in mind that no deaths should occur in Tamil Nadu.
Pointing out that there are some inequalities in compensation and criminal proceedings for casualties, he said in some cases the First Information Report is registered under the Indian Penal Code sections and in the other, cases are registered under the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act.
From this, it is clear that when casualties occur, no protocol has been laid down on how to handle the situation and the steps to be taken immediately. In order to avoid this, I request the Additional Chief Secretary, Municipal Administration, to formulate proper guidelines as soon as possible. In future if due precautions are not taken, then strict action will be taken against the officials responsible for the deaths, he warned.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.