Manual scavenging underway a stone’s throw from Ludhiana DC’s house
Despite the employment of manual scavengers and manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment being illegal under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the Ludhiana municipal corporation has still not done away with the practice.
For the last two days, sanitation workers have been manually cleaning a sewer on the posh Sutlej Club Road, where deputy commissioner Varinder Sharma also lives. The worker were seen entering the sewer without a body suit, exposing them to infections, health and safety hazards.
Vijay Danav, chairman of the Municipal Karamchari Dal, said, “Sadly, manual scavenging is being carried out on the same road where DC Varinder Sharma lives. We condemn the practice and It should be stopped immediately.”
Ashwani Sahota, president of Karamchari Dal, demanded that the workers should not be allowed to enter the sewer without wearing a bodysuit. “The sub-divisional officer (SDO) concerned should ensure that safai workers are wearing protective gear before entering the sewage,” he said.
SDO of Zone D, Anshul Garcha, said he had asked the workers to clear the silt in the sewage ahead of the monsoons. He added that no employee was told to enter the manhole and he will look into the matter.
One of the sanitation workers, pleading anonymity, said, “We are working on contract and on very low wages. If we raise our voice, we will be sacked and there is no one to address our grievances. We want to live our lives with dignity. We do not want to beg and that is the reason why we enter the sewer and risk our lives.”
Another safai sewak said that the work is giving them problems in spending time with their families and children.