In a video that has gone viral on social media, a civic worker is pictured entering an unmanned manhole with no security at the premises of the Gadag Deputy Commissioner’s office. Although the deputy commissioner’s office declined to confirm the incident took place, they said an investigation would be conducted into the incident.
Manual sewage cleaning is prohibited in the state. The law states that the construction of dry toilets and the use of manual scavengers to clean dry toilets was banned in India in 1993 (The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993).
Subsequent legislation in 2013, extended and clarified to include a ban on the use of human labor for direct cleaning of sewers, ditches, pits and septic tanks (Employment as Manual Scavengers and Rehabilitation Prohibition and Rehabilitation Act 2013).
According to sources, a worker entered a manhole without any safety equipment, such as gloves, on him. A DC office official said the worker attempted to pick up a tool from the manhole but said nothing about cleaning it up.
Deputy Commissioner M Sundaresh Babu told a news website: ‘We have asked workers to use a vacuum machine to clean manholes in the past. We had created awareness against manual cleaning which is prohibited by the government. We have requested clarification from the official concerned and will investigate. We will take appropriate action once we have the details. »
Amid multiple legislations and measures to combat manual cleaning, it continues in parts of India largely due to government indifference and social prejudice.
According to national official of Safai Karmachari Andolan, 472 manual cleaning deaths across the country have been recorded between 2016 and 2020, and 26 so far in 2021.