News Desk, Amar Ujala, New Delhi
Updated Fri, 20 Nov 2020 08:32 AM IST
– Photo: Amar Ujala
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Many government regulations and Supreme Court decisions prohibit manual scavenging of sewer lines and septic tanks without adequate safety precautions. However, even after this, 800 sweepers have died during the last five years while cleaning sewer lines.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launched the ‘Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge’ among 243 major cities on the occasion of ‘World Toilet Day’. Speaking at the event, Social Justice and Empowerment Secretary R Subramanian said that a fundamental change in the ‘Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Rehabilitation Act’ would be that mechanized sanitation would now be made mandatory. Subramaniam said that the ministry would not provide funds to contractors or municipalities to purchase machinery, but to the sanitation workers. He said, we want the sanitation workers to own these machines so that they can be used by the municipalities when needed.
Urban Affairs Secretary DS Mishra appealed to the states and city administrations to replace the word manhole with the word machine hole to work on the whole issue. At the same time, the state governments have resolved to mechanize the cleaning operations of all sewer and septic tanks by 31 April 2021.