Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise to eradicate manual scavenging by 2019, the trail of deaths due to this inhuman task seems to have no end as five more workers killed while cleaning sewer in Uttar Pradesh' Ghaziabad. According to reports, the deceased, who are yet to be identified, were cleaning sewer in Nandgram area of Ghaziabad at the instance of a contractor.
While there not enough efforts are being made to end the manual scavenging by his government, Cheif Minister Yogi Adityanath announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the killed workers. The chief minister has also issued a prob order into the incident and sought a report from the managing director of the water board in 48 hours.
According to sources, a worker had gone inside the sewer to clean it. However, when he didn't come out after some time, the other four co-workers also went down one by one to look for him and died. Their bodies have been kept at a local hospital and authorities have gone there to take stock of the situation.
India's sewer deaths
Deaths of sewer cleaners are not new in India and as per a report by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, around 801 sanitation workers have died due to manual scavenging in the country since 1993.
Although the Commission has told the states to provide safety equipment to sanitation workers for the cleaning of sewers, they are hardly seen wearing any of them. At least 40 sewer cleaners have died since 2017 in national capital Delhi alone.
The deaths of several workers prompted Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to adopt fully mechanised cleaning of sewers and penalise agencies continuing manual cleaning. However, there many sanitation workers in the city are still cleaning drainages manually.