NEW DELHI: The poor implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, which outlaws hazardous cleaning of sewer or septic tanks, is the cause for the government’s inability to stop deaths of sanitation workers, NGOs said.
While six deaths were reported in Delhi over the past week, there were reports of five people dying of asphyxiation while cleaning septic tanks in Chhattisgarh on Sunday.
The deaths show how municipal corporations and private agencies continue to flout rules, said the NGOs.
Sewer and septic tank cleaners have not been included in the ongoing manual scavenging survey.
The Centre plans to start its second round of survey in which it will include over 150 districts across 18 states.
However, sewer and septic tank cleaners are not a part of the identification and rehabilitation process.
“The biggest lacuna is there is no implementation of the 2013 Act prohibiting manual scavenging across India. The government is not sensitively thinking about the issue to come up with preventive measures. The attitude is to provide the compensation money once workers die. There is no accountability of the deaths.,” said Ashif Shaikh, convener, Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan.