• Blanket Ban on Manual Cleaning of Sewers

    Offenders to be booked under culpable homicide

    August 24, 2017


    In a long overdue decision, the Delhi social welfare minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Monday, August 21,  announced a blanket ban on manual cleaning of sewers and warned that anyone found violating the rule will be booked under culpable homicide.He also said that a committee had been formed to find out the best possible ways or machines to clean the gutters, within 15 days. This directions came after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday called a high-level meeting over deaths during sewer cleaning, which was attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi PWD minister Satyendar Jain and Gautam, along with officials of the departments concerned. The real question will be how strictly the Delhi government now implements the ban.

    "It was decided in the meeting that no person will be allowed to go inside the gutter for sewer cleaning under any circumstances. There will be a complete ban on it. We will also put up hoardings in this regard," Gautam told reporters.

    "It is very unfortunate and shameful that people are losing their lives while cleaning sewers manually in the capital city," the minister said, adding there were "standing instructions" that sewer drains should not be cleaned manually, but people were not adhering to the norms. "From now on, if any contractor or the engineer is found getting the sewer lines or tanks cleaned manually, he will be booked under culpable homicide instead of negligence," Gautam told the media. Earlier, instructions were issued for putting up hoardings and discouraging manual cleaning of sewers but instructions were not considered by the contractors. 

    Earlier this week one more man died while cleaning a sewer tank in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital of the Delhi Government on Sunday, while three others were injured. It is the tenth death in Delhi in just over a month.

    A committee comprising of CEO-Delhi Jal Board, Chairman-New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Commissioner-South Delhi Municipal Corporation had been formed to find out the best practices that can be adopted across the country to clean sewer lines.

    "They will submit their report in 15 days which will be tabled before the Lieutenant Governor in the next meeting," he said. Adding to it, on several occasions, it was found that people privately hired labourers to clean sewer tanks at their houses, at shopping malls where such mishaps occurred.  The concerned authorities are advised to make a proper list of the people who manually clean sewer. 

    On August 12 , two men died of suffocation while cleaning a septic pit at a mall in Shahdara in east Delhi. On August 6, three persons died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewer in Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi. On July 15, four persons had died after inhaling poisonous gases as they entered a water harvesting tank in Ghitorni in south Delhi.


    Published first in Sabrangindia.

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