Delhi sewer deaths: PWD lists safety measures for manual cleaning of drains

Updated on Aug 24, 2017 12:29 PM IST
Following the death of 10 sanitation workers in the city sewers, the Delhi government has finally listed safety measures to be taken up wherever mechanical cleaning is not possible. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had ordered full mechanisation of sewer cleaning in Delhi.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal meets the family of the sanitation worker who died at Lok Nayak hospital while cleaning a sewer.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal meets the family of the sanitation worker who died at Lok Nayak hospital while cleaning a sewer.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

Following the death of 10 sanitation workers in the city sewers, the Delhi government has finally listed safety measures to be taken up wherever mechanical cleaning is not possible.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had ordered full mechanisation of sewer cleaning in Delhi in a review meeting after the latest incident in which a sanitation worker was killed at Lok Nayak hospital last Sunday. Delhi Jal Board officials, however, clarified on Tuesday that in places where machines could not be used because of space constraints, manual labour will have to be engaged, the contractors will have to ensure the presence of senior officials to supervise the work.

The Public Works Department (PWD), in a circular issued on Monday, listed safety measures to be adopted during manual cleaning of sewers.

“When workers are employed in sewers and manholes, the contractors will have to ensure that the manhole covers are opened and ventilated at least for an hour before the workers are allowed to get in. The area around manhole will also have to be cordoned off with railing and warning signals to avoid any road accident,” the circular read.

“Before entry, presence of toxic gases should be tested by inserting wet lead acetate paper which changes colour in the presence of such gases. Presence of oxygen should be verified by lowering a detector lamp. In case, no oxygen is found inside the sewer line, workers should be sent with oxygen kit,” the PWD circular read.

The PWD has also asked the area in charge to provide safety belt with rope. “While working inside the manholes, such rope should be handled by two men standing outside to enable him to be pulled out during emergency,” it said.

PWD has also asked its area engineers to keep air blowers for flow of fresh air through the manholes.

PWD has also prepared a report on how manual scavenging in the drains could be done away with and suggested to explore the possibility to do mechanised cleaning of the drains.

As per the report, Delhi has a 3,468 km of drain network managed by nine different agencies and last year they removed 1,189,000 metric tonnes silt from the drain.

The report highlighted poor sweeping technology in Delhi as well as waste management. Often garbage collected from roads finds its way into the drains.

“Cow dung is being disposed off into the storm water drains from the dairies spread in all parts of the city. This results in blockage of the storm water drains, which are not designed to cater to this. These drains have to be cleaned regularly to keep them flowing,” the report said.

The committee has recommended investment of R 3100 crore in latest machines for mechanized cleaning of the drains. In the long run, the committee has recommended to bring the have adequate number of sewage treatment plants to cover the entire city.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Faizan Haidar writes on the Delhi government, city politics, transport, aviation, and social welfare. A journalist for a decade, he also tracks issues such as trafficking and labour exploitation in Delhi and other states.

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