India, Chennai: court to monitor steps taken to abolish manual cleaning of drains

The Madras high court has decided to personally monitor the steps taken by the Metrowater and Municipal Administration department to do away with the practice of manual cleaning of sewerage in the state.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice M Yusuf Eqbal and Justice TS Sivagnanam was passing orders on a contempt of court petition, which said the court-appointed special committee comprising senior officers and the petitioner was not taking the issue of manual cleaning of sewers seriously and that no concrete decisions had been taken by the committee.

The petition, filed by A Narayanan, referred to deaths of workers who got asphyxiated after entering into manholes in different parts of the city. Though the civic authorities contended that they had stopped the practice and had purchased machines for the purpose, several deaths were reported even after that, the petitioner said.

In September 2009, the court formed a special committee and asked it to suggest steps to improve the drainage system and maintain the overall environment clean in cities and villages. Though the committee was supposed to submit its report in two months, it got six more months to submit it.

As no meaningful progress was made by the committee, Narayanan filed the present contempt petition.

The bench, considering the seriousness of the issue, said henceforth it would monitor further course of action, and directed the committee to hold its meeting in the first week of August [2010] itself. A preliminary report as to the steps taken should also be filed, it said.

The judges then posted the matter to August 17 for further proceedings.

See also: Mari Marcel Thekaekara, Victory for Tamil Nadu’s manual scavengers, InfoChange, Jul 2009

Related web site: Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA)

Source: Times of India, 29 Jul 2010

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