Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on Monday gave authorities 15 days to formulate a plan to fully mechanise the process of cleaning sewers and drains.
Mr. Baijal gave the directions during a high-level meeting on the recent deaths of workers, while they were cleaning sewers in the Capital.
The L-G also told government departments to institute a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for emergency manual cleaning, within seven days. He also asked the police to take stringent action against contractors violating the rules.
The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain, Water Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, the Chief Secretary, Chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Council, all three municipal commissioners, CEO of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and several other departmental representatives.
“Noting that these deaths are a grim portrayal of the unsafe working conditions of people engaged to keep Delhi’s sewer lines and tanks clean, often with their bare hands, the L-G termed the present situation unacceptable,” said a senior official.
“The L-G directed the CEO of the DJB to propose a plan of action for 100% mechanisation of sewers and drains cleaning within 15 days. The ‘SOP’ will apply to private contractors, group housing society, malls etc.,” the official added.
“The contractors must provide gas masks, safety harness belts, helmets and mechanised equipment as legally mandated for the hazardous work of cleaning underground sewers,” the official said.
After the meeting, Mr. Gautam told reporters that the government had decided that contractors who used manual labour to clean sewers would be charged with murder, instead of negligence, if workers lost their lives. In the latest case of sewer death, which occured on Sunday at the LNJP Hospital, the contractor has been booked for culpable homicide.
Source: The Hindu