BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed chairman of the Karnataka Urban water Supply and Sewerage Board and BJP leader Krishnaiah Shetty and the chairman of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to produce details of actions taken to prevent the practice of manual scavenging.
Hearing a petition filed by People’s Union of Civil Liberty seeking to implement the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act-1993, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna lashed out at the state government’s apathy towards preventing manual scavenging and physical entry into sewerage lines and tanks, and directed it to furnish details of actions taken so far. Counsel for the petitioners Dr Ravi Varma Kumar submitted in his petition that 16 persons had died, and that though the state had banned manual scavenging in 1973, not much had been done to implement the ban.
Citing pervious announcements by the state government where it said it would procure machines to desilt and clean manholes, the petitioners stated that people were still entering manholes without any safety measures like gas masks.
A moved Chief Justice said the officials concerned, including the chairmen of both the Boards, should go into the sewerage themselves and take photographs. “If they are genuine, let them get into the sewerage lines themselves and get the photographs. Let them experience the plight themselves. We will forget contempt proceedings against them,“ he said.
Government’s counsel Basavraj Kareddy submitted that out of 213 urban local bodies in the state, 81 (seven corporations, 32 CMCs and 34 TMCs and eight town panchayats) have already procured sucking and jetter machines for mechanised cleaning of sceptic tanks and underground drainage lines. He further said 48 more machines would be procured by June 2012 and sought more time to comply with the order.