The PIL filed by advocate Abha Singh expressed concern over the high number of sanitation worker deaths during sewerage cleaning.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court Tuesday sought the state government’s response to a public interest litigation (PIL) raising the issue of the rising number of sewer deaths and the harrowing conditions faced by sanitation workers, citing violation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act.
The PIL filed by advocate Abha Singh expressed concern over the high number of sanitation worker deaths during sewerage cleaning, despite the ban on manual scavenging and unprotected sewer operations. The PIL stated that to add to this, there had not been a single criminal conviction till date.
The petition pointed out that in 2019, 12 persons died while cleaning sewers in Maharashtra and in none of these cases, protective gear was provided. The safety equipment typically used did not include full body suits, oxygen cylinders and other
Advocate Singh stated in the petition that manual scavenging was modern-day untouchability and a violation of Article 17 of the Constitution. “This is in stark violation of sections 8 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers Act 2013 which provides for imprisonment if manual scavengers are employed or humans are made to clean sewers,” it said.
Advocate Singh pointed out that a 2014 Supreme Court judgment provided for `10 lakh compensation for every such death, but a Right To Information (RTI) query revealed that none of the families who lost a kin this year had been compensated.
The petition claimed that the government was blatantly violating provisions of the Act and the apex court judgment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to eradicate the menance of manual scavenging by 2019.