Manual scavenging: Ludhiana MC employees’ union seeks cancellation of FIR
Raising hue and cry over the FIR lodged by Sahnewal police in the alleged incident of manual scavenging in the Jugiana area, the Municipal Employees Sangharsh Committee has warned of an agitation if the report is not cancelled in 15 days.
In a memorandum submitted with municipal corporation (MC) commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal on Wednesday, the MC employees’ union stated that the FIR was lodged on the complaint of Punjab State Safai Karamchari Commission chairman Geja Ram Valmiki.
They further stated that the chairman is doing injustice with the MC employees as no official had forced the sewermen to enter the manhole for cleaning the sewer lines.
Lodging an FIR in the case on August 30, the Sahnewal police have booked unidentified persons under Sections 7 and 9 of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.
Ashwani Sahota, chairman of the employees’ union, said, “Even though the FIR is lodged against unidentified persons, it has brought down the morale of the MC’s operations and maintenance cell. They are fearing action against them in the coming days. No official forces any sewerman to enter the manhole. It is difficult for the employees to work under this pressure, and it might also have a bad impact on their mental and physical health.”
“In the memorandum submitted with the commissioner, we have demanded cancellation of the FIR within 15 days otherwise, we will be forced to raise an agitation,” said Sahota.
Despite attempts made to reach MC commissioner Sabharwal, he was not available for comments.
While the police stated that an investigation is being done in the case, Geja Ram demanded that the FIR should be lodged against the concerned MC employees by name, failing which he will move the court.
Geja Ram had recommended an FIR against the MC executive engineer and sub-divisional officer for allegedly forcing the sewermen to enter manholes to clean the sewer lines without safety kits in the Jugiana area on July 16. Subsequently, MC officials including executive engineers, sub-divisional officers, and junior engineers locked horns with Geja Ram, during the meeting of the commission convened to discuss the delay in lodging an FIR.
Sharing a video of the incident, the MC officials alleged that the chairperson himself had forced the employees to enter the manhole, to implicate MC staffers. The MC employees union had said that they will go on strike if an FIR was lodged against the MC officials.