• India’s Sewers are Death Traps for Workers

    35 deaths have occurred in the last 100 days

    Surangya Kaur & P.G. Ambedkar

    July 22, 2017

    4 out of 5 workers, who were called to clean the “rain harvesting pit” in the Mehta Farms, Gittorni, died in the sewer this Saturday. This incident occurred apparently due to lack of proper equipment provided to the workers who entered the pit. The sewer deaths once again bring to light the apathy of the government to human life. 35 deaths have occurred in the last 100 days. Bezwda Wilson, Convenor, Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), says the deaths could have been prevented if the government took necessary measures.

    In 1993 an Act was passed in the Parliament to look into the issues of the Safai Karamcharis. The act is known as the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis (NCSK) and has powers to “investigate specific grievances and take suo moto notice of matters relating to non-implementation of—(i) programmes or schemes in respect of any group of Safai Karamcharis.”

    Speaking to Newsclick on the issue, Mr. Wilson said, “The National Commission for Safai Karmacharis has the power to issue orders to the Governments, both at the State and the centre, to take preventive measures, but it has failed to use its powers.”

    A list of the 60 deaths in the sewers since 1 January 2017 to 17 July 2017 has been compiled by SKA. There is a Supreme Court Judgment in the Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors vs Union of India, writ petition no. 583 of 2003, that no one is allowed to enter the sewers and even if they were to enter, in emergency cases, proper protective gear has to be provided. In the event of death, a compensation of Rs 10 Lakhs per deceased has to be provided to the affected family members. It is surprising to note that families of only 7 out of 60 deceased people, have received any such compensation.


    Published first in Newsclick.

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