Gujarat: 95 sanitation workers died since 2019, no government officials charged  

A national government survey found that 13,460 people in the nation were employed in drain and septic tank cleaning in 2018, and that number increased to 58,098 people in 2019.

Published: 08th April 2023 04:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th April 2023 04:17 PM   |  A+A-

Manual scavenging  (File | EPS)

Manual scavenging (File | EPS)

Express News Service

AHMEDABAD: Circulars issued by the Gujarat Government's Urban Development and Housing on 10 May 2019 and the Panchayat and Village Development Department on 11 July 2019 stated the same thing: "If any sanitation worker dies while cleaning the underground drains, septic tank, so make a class II officer of the corporation an accused."

95 sanitation employees have died and 45 cases have happened since the circulars were issued, however, no government official has been charged with a crime says Purushotham Vaghela, sanitation worker rights activist. 

It's also important to note that over the past 15 days, seven sanitation employees have died in Gujarat in three different instances. 

Despite the fact that the court ruled against it in some parts of Gujarat, excrement is still manually cleaned from private and public dry toilets and open drains. 

Three workers died in Bharuch while cleaning drains. Two died in Umargam, Valsad, while entering to clean the sewer, and two died in Rajkot due to a gas leak while cleaning drains.

Vaghela accuses the government and claims that “by order of the government of India, a helpline number 14420 has been established in Gujarat to stop manual scavenging. However, when you call this number, you are given the general number of the corporation to complain there, and the number provided by the
the corporation accepts complaints for water and sewerage problems, not to stop manual scavenging, and a helpline has been established, but no staff has been appointed, it was no use.”

Over the past three decades, Gujarat has had the second-highest incidence of cleaning worker fatalities in the nation. A national government survey found that 13,460 people in the nation were employed in drain and septic tank cleaning in 2018, and that number increased to 58,098 people in 2019. There are 105 families working as manual scavengers in Gujarat.

Hiren Banker, a spokesperson for the Congress party, said “The mortality toll from manual scavenging of drains and septic tanks in the state of Gujarat has progressively climbed to 136 in the last three decades due to poverty and a lack of alternative employment possibilities."

“Scavenging is a dangerous practice that is costing Gujarati citizens their lives; this is scary and serious,” he added.

In a recent Gujarat assembly budget session, Social Justice Department also accepted in the assembly that “some private contractors hire workers from other states and ask them to enter into drains, which leads to tragedy.”


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