Delhi govt orders complete ban on manual scavenging
NEW DELHI: Forty eight hours after the tragic manhole incident at LNJP Hospital, law enforcement agencies are yet to apprehend the contractor allegedly responsible for sending sanitation workers without safety equipment into the sewer.
To avoid such incidents in the future, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday directed the Delhi government and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to ensure 100 per cent mechanisation of sewage cleaning and a blanket ban on manual scavenging.
The Delhi government, facing flak for not taking adequate measures despite a series of death of sanitation workers, swung into action to ensure zero manual scavenging.
DCP (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said police have formed several teams and will make arrests soon.
"On the basis of the statement of the person who was discharged from hospital, we registered a case," said Randhawa.
Police have registered a case under sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the IPC, and Section 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 against the contractor, who has been absconding since the incident.
On Sunday, 48-year-old Rishipal died while cleaning a sewer in the premises of LNJP Hospital, while three of his co-workers Kiran, Bhisen and Sumit were admitted to hospital.
Talking to Millennium Post, Bhisen's brother Inderjit said that his brother and Kiran are still receiving treatment. "They are not able to talk due to the poisonous gases which entered their system when they went into the manhole," he said.
Delhi Water Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said the LG has directed the DJB to submit a detailed report on how they can mechanise the process of sewage cleaning.
Baijal further directed the Board to prepare a standard operating procedure for cases requiring emergency manual intervention as per law within a week's time.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government asked the DJB and civic bodies to submit names of registered contractors and companies who take contracts for manual labourers.
"We will blacklist all the contractors and if any such incident happens in the city, the contractors will be booked under IPC Section 304," Gautam said.
He added that in such cases the government will also take action against engineers of DJB involved with such projects.
After the meeting with the LG, also attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Gautam said the Delhi government has decided to start a campaign against manual scavenging.
"Following the directions of the LG, we will put hoardings across the city against manual scavenging," Gautam added.
The Minister elaborated everywhere in the world manual cleaning of sewage is banned and it is done through machines.
The government and the DJB, with help from civic bodies, will find out the machines needed for this job.
"We want to buy these machines, and not rent them. The DJB will submit the estimated cost and then we will decide on the purchase," Gautam asserted.
The LG has also instructed Delhi Police to take stringent action against the contractors. Sunday's incident is the tenth such death in Delhi in just over a month.