Millennium Post

64 people died in Delhi while cleaning sewers since 1993: NCSK

64 people died in Delhi while cleaning sewers since 1993: NCSK

New Delhi: The National Commission of 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 that the Delhi government has not been implementing the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and is sending out a wrong message to the rest of the country.

Delhi's Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, however, said the Delhi government has ensured effective implementation of the Act and the deaths which have taken place occurred in septic tanks of malls and high rises where sewer cleaning machines of Delhi Jal Board cannot reach.

The minister said his government has put an end to manual scavenging and exploring alternatives for cleaning 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 have developed 'mangalyaan', we should also explore new technologies for sewer cleaning."

After a review meeting with the officials of the Delhi government, 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 lakhs to 46 families. The commission 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".

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, Gautam said, "Delhi has got better schemes than Ayushman Bharat and it cannot be implemented in the capital because the average income of Delhiites is better 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.

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