By DN Singh
The tragic deaths of two manual scavengers in the capital city, Bhubaneswar , on Friday, while cleaning a septic tank has come out as a mocking dismissal of the reality of Swaccha Bharat mission.
The two died of asphyxiation inside the tank. Which adds two more numbers to the 631 manual scavengers in the country in last ten years.
Inquiries have revealed that they were not shielded with the adequate gears of safety.Who engaged them and why? are the questions stare on the face of the civic authorities here.
While we talk of playng the leader role in the world in the fight against the Covid, the city’s Municipal Corportaion, BMC, perhaps does not look beyond its nose to see that, an inhuman practice is still in vogue in the heart of the state capital.
Apex Court Banned Manual Scavenging in 2014
One thing is crystal clear that, in 2014 the Supreme Court of India had prohibited the employment of manual scavengers inside sewer and septic tanks where the dangerous poisonous gas leads to asphyxiation deaths of manual scavengers.
Incidentally, in 2019, about four years after the trumpeting of the Swachha Bharat mission, the lives of 110 such workers were lost inside the sewer, septic tanks in India. And one of the highest and taking the toll to 340 deaths in last five years.
People of Odisha might not have recovered from a shock from an incident in 2018, when five people got into a septic tank just to save a woman trapped in a septic tank, was already going breathless inside, and the rescuers also got struck by the asphyxiation and all died. It had happened in Raygada district.
Who To Blame !
Can our political executives and administration close their eyes to the dangerous plight a manual scavenger gets subjected to!
Suffocating inside a tank, in complete detachments from the Swaccha Bharat outside, half sunk in a filth covered by a blanket of insects, dead or alive, and in summer, the sweats reverberating due to the deadly heat, it is something unthinkable in an age when we dream of new India.
According to official records since 2018 there has been a 62.1 % rise in such deaths and the highest in 2015 .
Despite all the clamour for mechanised Sewer and Septic tank operation , the number of manual scavengers has shot up to 14,559 in between 2013 till last Jan 2020 in the country.
The ease with which such victims are ignored by both the states and the centre is a shocking reality .
About the Author:
DN Singh is a Bhubaneswar-based senior journalist.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com