BENGALURU: The next time you engage sanitary workers at your apartment complex to clean manholes for repair sewage treatment plants, make sure they are certified and empanelled by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). The civic agency is bringing in a regulation to this effect to ensure safety of workers. The proposal was finalised in a recent meeting with the Chief Secretary.
Speaking to The New Sunday Express, BWSSB Chairperson Tushar Girinath said, “We are working on bringing in the regulation shortly. As soon as it is introduced, we will make it mandatory for private apartments to hire only those workers empanelled by the Board. The workers will be given proper training by us and taught about safety gear and equipment.” Those trained will be provided ID cards by the Board.
The regulation will also be applicable in case of manholes in private areas, Girinath said. “The step is to make sure these workers do not come to any physical harm when carrying out their jobs,” he added.
Untrained or unqualified workers entering STPs to clean them is a major issue in the city. A senior official had told TNSE earlier, “Many apartments even make their security personnel to get into these plants to set right problems that crop up, endangering them physically.”
There have been several instances of workers dying of asphyxiation when manually cleaning STPs or manholes. Three workers lost their lives in Somasundara Palya in Southeast Bengaluru in January this year due to inhalation of poisonous gas when cleaning an STP in an apartment complex.
According to the Karnataka State Safai Karamchari Commission, 68 people have lost their lives in the state since 2008 while clearing such manholes.
In another major move being planned to ensure welfare of similarly employed workers, the BWSSB plans to give out contracts for cleaning sewage using jetting machines to Safai Karmacharis. “The Safai Karmachari Development Corporation will provide them funds to purchase jetting/sucking machines. The BWSSB will train them to operate these machines and provide them these jobs on contract basis so that they can move out of manual cleaning,” Girinath said. The BWSSB is looking at deploying another 30 jetting machines in the city for clearing blocked sewage lines and manholes, he added.