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Noida authority has four machines to clean drains, yet it uses humans

Following the incident, the authority has once again claimed that it will not allow manual cleaning of sewers.

noida Updated: Sep 21, 2017 21:59 IST
Vinod Rajput
Vinod Rajput
Hindustan Times
Noida authority,drains,sewer cleaning machines
Three sanitation workers were killed in Noida on Thursday while cleaning a drain in Sector 110.

Despite having four sewer cleaning machines at their disposal, the Noida authority routinely employs sanitation workers to clean drains, thereby putting their lives at risk.

On Thursday, three contractual employees of the authority died while cleaning a sewer in Sector 110 — a grave reminder that the authority has not learnt any lesson from similar incidents in the past.

On September 12, three sanitation workers fell unconscious after inhaling toxic fumes in a sewer in Noida’s Sector 52. The workers were immediately rescued by the police and were rushed to the district hospital, where they survived.

However, two sanitation workers, aged 21 and 23, who were working at a sewage treatment plant (STP) in Sector 54 were not that lucky. They died while working at the oxidation tank of the STP. Taking cognizance of the media reports, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Noida authority and the district administration over the deaths.

But Thursday’s incident confirmed that nothing has changed on the ground or, for that matter, below it.

Following the incident, the authority has once again claimed that it will not allow manual cleaning of sewers.

“The Noida authority keeps claiming that it will use machines to clean sewers and will not put contractual employees at risk by making them clean choked sewer lines. But the authority does not bother about safety guidelines. Many daily wage earners have lost their lives while manually cleaning sewers. But still the Noida authority top officials do not ensure that sewers are cleaned by machines,” said Dinesh Parcha, a contractual employee working with the health department of the Noida authority.

After the Sector 52 incident, Noida authority additional chief executive officer RK Mishra, who looks after the health department, had directed the officials to ensure that sewers are not cleaned manually. But the health department staff did not follow the directive and allowed manual cleaning in Sector 110.

“I had specifically directed the health department staff not to allow manual cleaning of sewers because it can put labourers at risk. We have formed a committee headed by an officer on special duty of the Noida authority, RK Singh, to probe this incident and ascertain culpability. I even issued an order that private sewer tanks will be cleaned by the authority using machines to ensure labourers are safe,” Mishra said.

The Noida authority chief executive officer Alok Tandon on Thursday announced a Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of each of the three sanitation employees.

“We are very disheartened with the death of the three employees because their families were dependent on them. We checked the Central government guidelines and decided to give a Rs 10 lakh compensation to each victims’ family. Those who are guilty in this incident will not go scot-free. We will act against them as per law once the probe report is out,” said Manmohan Mishra, financial controller of the Noida authority.

The Delhi government in a case had informed the bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sunil Gaur that the Lieutenant-Governor has lately formed a committee to probe various steps for the implementation of ‘The Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavenger and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ and rules, said the Noida authority officials.

However, even after the high court and the Supreme Court issued orders listing guidelines for cleaning of sewers, the Noida authority officials do not follow them.

“The Noida authority is operating as a development authority and it does not have the expertise to deal with municipal issues. It is high time that the UP government scraps the Noida authority and appoints a municipal body that can take over the responsibility of civic issues,” said AN Dhawan, secretary of the federation of Noida residents’ welfare association.

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 21:59 IST