HYDERABAD: In a welcome move, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation on Friday handed over cheques of Rs 8 lakh to the kin of two men who had died while cleaning manholes on Wednesday. They families had been given Rs 2 lakh on Thursday. The Rs 10 lakh compensation was in accordance with a Supreme Court judgement passed on March 27, 2014.
However, in Telangana an independent Express investigation revealed that families of as many as 12 men killed while performing manual scavenging and related jobs had not received the Rs 10 lakh compensation, to be released immediately, as ordered by the apex court.
Six of the families are from Hyderabad, one is from Armoor, three from Nizamabad, one from Warangal and one from Sangareddy.
The men had died between 2002 and 2016.
The investigation was based on a report by Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), founded by Bezwada Wilson, who was awarded the Magsaysay award in 2016 for his work towards the abolition of manual scavenging. The SKA report documents the cases of families of 22 such men in Telangana who had not been awarded compensation as per SC order.
Express independently contacted families of 11 victims listed in SKA’s report and family of one man whose death had not been documented by SKA and found that in not one case had the SC’s order been implemented.
Take the case of A Ramulu who died in October 2015 at Uppal. Ramulu was a permanent employee of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB). According to his family, they received Rs 4 lakh, from his Employees’ Provident Fund and his son Balaraju was given his job.
Balaraju works as a line man and is a permanent employee while Ramulu’s wife recieves a pension of Rs 15,000, the latter due to her anyway. There is no sign any compensation for his death.
Then there are others, like Dangra Rahul, a resident of Nizamabad, who died in April 2015. Rahul was the sole breadwinner of the family which includes his parents and three siblings. They said they had not received a single paisa, despite their repeated attempts to get ex-gratia.
In the case of Sheikh Samad, Sheikh Jameel, Sheikh Ameer Ali, all of the same family, who died in Nizamabad in October 2014, Ghousia Begum, Jameel’s mother told Express that they were given Rs 10,000 to perform the last rites of the three men.
SKA has been visiting districts t o find famililes of deceased and to help them access compensation.
“We have been trying to put these deaths on record by visiting various districts across the country. There are no statistics available on the lives and death of manual scavengers.
In fact, any official body denies that the profession even exists,” said Saraswathi, state coordinator of SKA, Telangana state.
Telangana secretary of Municipal Administration and Urban Development Navin Mittal, when asked for a response, sought time to look into the details. Efforts to reach MAUD minister K T Rama Rao proved futile.