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Licensing must for private firms cleaning sewers, says Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

The ministry’s amendments proposed in the Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, is currently under process for obtaining approval from the Cabinet.

Published: 22nd March 2020 09:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2020 09:28 AM   |  A+A-

According to the commission, 64 people have died while cleaning sewers in Delhi since 1993.

For representational purposes

NEW DELHI:   The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has sought compulsory licensing of private cleaning agencies in order to clamp down on sewer deaths. 

As per data submitted to Parliament, there were 110 sewer deaths last year. 

The ministry’s amendments proposed in the Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, is currently under process for obtaining approval from the Cabinet.

The ministry has proposed amending the Act in order to enhance its scope and strengthen the existing provisions “to make it more coherent, meaningful and forceful”.

Currently, most municipalities and local bodies engage private agencies for cleaning sewers and septic tanks and transporting of septage waste from septic tanks to the septage treatment plants, the national action plan for mechanised sanitation system said. 

Agencies which have facilities for mechanised cleaning and handling of septage should get licences, it said.

The national action proposed setting up of Sanitation Response Units in each district for tackling emergency situations.

The units would be equipped with sanitation emergency vehicles and sector reserve, which would comprise suction equipment and sewer maintenance equipment. 

It would also be responsible for developing facilities for training and certification of sanitation workers either in-house or through reputed institutions, the national action plan said.

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