CHENNAI: A compensation of Rs10 lakh must be paid for the families of manual scavengers who lose their life during work, mandates the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. If rules were meant to be honoured, K Nagammal would have go the money soon after her husband was asphyxiated inside a septic tank in an apartment complex at Velacherry nine years ago.
But who should pay this money? The apartment complex residents or Chennai Corporation? This legal tangle has a bearing on the struggle that Saila now faces in entering college education. But as a result of the legal battle that a few activists are waging against manual scavenging, Madras High Court on January 18 ruled that it was the responsibility of Chennai Corporation to pay the `10 lakh compensation for the victims of manual scavenging.
Despite the ruling nothing has come. No wonder, that the mother and daughter, having lived a life of penury, think the local money lenders are more dependable.
“I have been checking colleges in the Guindy-Tambaram stretch. Since I can’t afford to buy application of all the colleges, I will select two and buy the forms only from these two colleges,” says Saila on her plans to save as much money as possible.
The corporation has not changed its stance on who must pay the compensation. “Since the private apartments allowed them to work without proper equipment, safety masks and supervision of qualified engineers, this was the responsibility of the apartment proprietors to compensate the deaths,” the Superintendent Engineer (Solid Waste Management) from Chennai Corporation had replied thus on February 17, after express reported the plight of Nagammal and a few other families that have lost breadwinners to manual scavenging. Repeated attempts by Express to reach the officials of the Chennai corporation over last few days for comments were futile.