Madras HC issues notice to Centre, state on plea for better facilities to sanitary workers

The petitioner said according to data collected by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, since 2017 one sanitary worker has died every 5 days in India while cleaning sewers or septic tanks

Published: 22nd September 2020 06:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd September 2020 06:38 PM   |  A+A-

Manual Scavengers

For representational purposes (Express Illustration)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the state and central government to file a detailed report on a plea to provide minimum wages, risk allowances and basic amenities including housing facilities to sanitary workers in local bodies.

A division bench comprising justices MM Sundresh and R Hemalatha issued the notice on the plea filed by N Paneerselvam, an advocate from Coimbatore, who stated that sanitation workers and manual scavengers are losing their lives maintaining sewers and septic tanks in the name of clean India.

The petitioner also said according to the data collected by the National Commission for Safai Karamchari, since 2017, one sanitation worker has died every five days in India while cleaning sewers or septic tanks. The main cause of deaths among sewage cleaners is the depletion of oxygen and the presence of toxic gases, mostly hydrogen sulphide at the bottom of septic tanks.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sanitary workers are the real warriors next to the medical professionals, fighting against the virus without any fear and hesitation and also not expecting the government will provide safety kits and other safety gear to them, he added.

In the state, sanitary workers, who are working without giving any importance to their life, are only earning Rs 2100 per month, which amounts to around Rs 80 per day and are mostly contract workers,
stated the petitioner.

Thus the petitioner sought basic wages and better housing facilities to be provided to each of the workers with a risk allowance at least to those working under the local bodies.

The court recording the submissions made by the petitioner issued a notice on the plea to state and central government authorities to file a detailed report on October 16.


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