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MCG to end practice of manual scavenging

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has been directed to end the practice of manual scavenging and cleaning of septic tanks on an immediate basis — a release issued by the civic body on Friday stated
By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 11:49 PM IST

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has been directed to end the practice of manual scavenging and cleaning of septic tanks on an immediate basis — a release issued by the civic body on Friday stated.

The direction was issued to the MCG by Yogita Swaroop, joint secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment, during a loan fair organised by the civic body at Rangbhoomi Theatre in Sector 29. The loan fair was organised under the Safai Mitra Challenge and Swachhta Udyami Yojana launched by the union housing and urban affairs ministry.

There have been 11 fatalities due to manual scavenging or cleaning of septic tanks since 2017.

Although the civic body has two robots, two super-suction machines, two jetting machines, and nearly 20 suction tankers for cleaning sewers and septic tanks across the city, the practice is often carried out by the civic body’s outsourced sanitation workers during an emergency or in the absence of such machines.

Taking cognisance of this matter, MCG commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, in an internal order issued a month ago, had directed his staff to ensure that the practice of manual scavenging and cleaning of septic tanks is completely eliminated and make estimates to procure necessary machinery accordingly.

“Over the last few years, the MCG has gradually phased out the practice of manual scavenging and cleaning of septic tanks. However, in a few cases, especially during emergencies, we were informed that this practice was still being used. MCG officials have now been directed to stop this practice altogether even during emergencies, and use machines instead. We are making arrangements to procure adequate machinery,” said Singh.

He further said that a team has also been constituted to prepare estimates and identify the total number of machines the MCG needs for this task and, subsequently, initiate the procurement process.

Singh said that the MCG is also looking to carry out awareness programs to alert residents about the harms of this practice.

“Residents can alert the MCG if they spot the practice of manual scavenging or cleaning of septic tanks at any point in the city so that we can immediately send out officials to stop the activity and take action against the violators. Our main objective is to save lives,” said Singh.

MCG officials also announced that under the Central government’s sanitation scheme, entrepreneurs can obtain loans ranging from 5 lakh to 15 lakh at a four percent interest for a period of 10 years to procure necessary machinery to clean tanks and sewerage lines.

“Financial assistance is being provided by the Central government for arranging mechanised sanitation equipment under the Swachhta Udyami Yojana to eliminate the practice of manual scavenging. The objective of the government is to protect people and raise their standard of living. The government aims to fully mechanise 100 urban local bodies in this matter. Training will also be provided by the government to sanitation workers regarding the operation of the machines. During the training, a one-time amount of 1,500 stipend will also be given,” said Swaroop.

Naresh Kumar Malkat, secretary for the Haryana Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, and a sanitation supervisor in the MCG said that the scheme should also be applicable to workers.

“Besides contractors, the MCG should also ensure that the scheme allows sanitation workers to procure small machinery on loan on their own. This way, they will have machines readily available and prevent them from entering manholes or septic tanks,” said Malkat.

BOX:

Fatalities due to manual scavenging

June 2018: Three workers died while laying a new sewerage line in Pataudi.

May 2018: A 25-year-old sanitation worker died in Sector 9 after he had entered a manhole to save two co-workers, who were facing difficulty in breathing. The two co-workers survived the incident. However, the 25-year-old died after getting trapped in the loose soil and inhaling toxic gases.

April 2019: Two workers died in Khandsa while cleaning a septic tank.

October 2017: Cleaning of a septic tank in Khandsa claimed the lives of three workers.

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