Vigilance committees to check sewer deaths in Delhi
The Delhi government has nearly completed the process for forming district level vigilance committees that will keep watch on the ground and try and prevent any more deaths in the Capital’s sewers.
The move comes after nine people were killed in the city’s sewers in a span of one month in three separate incidents. The latest of these incidents took place on August 12 and claimed the lives of two brothers cleaning a sewage tank without safety gear at a mall in east Delhi.
Earlier, on August 6, three private sanitation workers had died inside a Delhi Jal Board-managed sewer line in Lajpat Nagar. Before that, four labourers suffocated to death while trying to clean a rainwater harvesting pit which had turned into a sewage-filled septic tank due to lack of maintenance in Ghitorni on July 16.
“The vigilance committee will be headed by the district magistrate and will include two MLAs, police officials, deputy commissioner of municipal corporations and four social workers, among others. The notification regarding the committees will be issued in a day or two,” water minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said.
Another committee, which will implement provisions of the Manual Scavenging Act, will also be formed for keeping an eye on the vigilance committees.
“This panel will be headed by the chief minister and will include the MCD commissioners, police commissioner, representatives of different workers’ unions, a representative of Delhi Cantonment Board, of the New Delhi Municipal Council, four social workers and one Delhi Jal Board member. The approval for this too should be done by Monday or Tuesday,” Gautam said.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has called an emergency meeting over sewage deaths. The meeting will be held on Tuesday and all Delhi Jal Board executive engineers and officials above them have been asked to attend it.
Manual scavenging was banned in the country in 1993. However, since 1994, more than 80 people have died in the drains and manholes of the Capital alone.
Section 7 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, states that no person, local authority or any agency shall engage or employ, either directly or indirectly, any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.