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Safai Karamcharis Commission writes to Delhi govt over sewer deaths

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) has written to the Delhi government seeking to know why sanitation workers continue to die in the national capital while cleaning sewers manually even after the purchase of 200 sewer cleaning machines.

Referring to the recent news reports of frequent deaths of sanitation workers in Delhi while manually cleaning sewers without protective gears, the commission also sought to know the steps taken by the Delhi government to stop these deaths.

In a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, NCSK secretary Narain Dass said that the commission has taken serious note of these sewer death incidents and is pursuing each of the cases separately with the respective police and district authorities urging them to register FIR under stringent provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and to pay compensation to the families of victims.

"The commission has gathered that the Delhi government has procured 200 sewer cleaning machines to ensure the mechanized system of sewer cleaning. However, the regular occurrence of sewer deaths in Delhi seems to betray the suggestion of mechanization," Dass said.

Around more than 15 sewer deaths have been reported during last one-and-half years in Delhi which has "dismayed" the commission. The commission is "compelled to understand the mechanised system of sewer cleaning is still not being executed completely". The NCSK secretary further said that this was a clear indication that the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 are not being implemented seriously.

"I shall be grateful if you could kindly provide a detailed report to this commission as to how the sewer death cases are continuing in Delhi despite claims of mechanization and steps being taken by the Delhi government to stop these deaths," the letter said.

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