Government apathy leads to two more manual scavenging deaths in Bengaluru

MANUAL SCAVENGING DEATHS IN BENGALURU

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A BWSSB contract worker trying to repair a blocked manhole (2013). Pic: Shree D N

Two more labourers, Ramu (age 25 ) and Ravi (age 28 ), from Raichur died in a septic tank at the Yum Lok restaurant in AECS layout in Bengaluru. These deaths are a result of failure of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KPSCB) and the BBMP to strictly implement guidelines around the construction and maintenance of commercial establishments.

Section 7 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, expressly prohibits employment of persons for hazardous cleaning of a sewers or septic tanks and any contravention of this section is cognizable and a non-bailable offence under section 9 of the above Act. Additionally, offenses are made out under section 3(1) (j) of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 as amended in 2016, as well as under IPC sec 304 (part 2).

As per the statement issued by the Municipal Corporation’s Joint Commissioner for Health, Sarfaraz Khan, the restaurant’s application has been rejected by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike but it has continued to operate illegally. Why are illegal entities continuing to operate in Bengaluru? It is due to failure of the monitoring and implementing bodies such as the BBMP and KPSCP to continuously monitor and take strict actions to shut down illegal commercial establishments that operate with impunity. This lead to loss of life of young men from marginalized communities.

The Safai Karmachari Kavalu Samiti, Karnataka, is a group of activists working for the rehabilitation of persons engaged in manual scavenging and total eradication of manual scavenging, which is the worst form of caste based slavery. Known cases of manual scavenging related deaths in Bengaluru city has already reached 6 in 2018. The Kavalu samiti strongly condemns the continuing inaction by the KSPCB, BBMP and state government to take strict action to prevent all forms of manual scavenging and strictly penalize violations by the government, commercial establishments and apartment complexes.

As per the directions under the 2014 Supreme Court judgement in Safai Karamachari Andolan & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors family of the two men, should be provided a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs each immediately and the state government should also take immediate steps towards providing a government job to one member of deceased family as per the provisions of the 2013 Act and 2014 SC judgement.

About Dr Sylvia Karpagam 4 Articles
Dr Sylvia Karpagam is a public health doctor and researcher working with urban marginalised communities.