Ban on engaging manual workers to clean drains extended

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Chennai, Oct 15 (UNI) The Madras High Court today extended the ban on engaging manual workers for cleaning sewage and drains in the local bodies in Tamil Nadu for a period of three weeks.

When a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in this regard came up for hearing, the First Bench comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla said the practice of engaging manual workers for cleaning drains in an era of technological advancement was condemnable.

''If the present system of engaging manual workers for cleaning sewage and manholes continued, the court will take severe action against Local Body authorities,'' the Bench warned.

Earlier, the Chief Engineer of the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) submitted that the local bodies were using machines for cleaning drains and manholes.

Since several drainage pipes were in ''L'' shape machinery could not be used. ''In such cases there is a need to involve manual workers'', he submitted.

Irked by this, the Bench directed the government to submit within three weeks, a detailed list of manual workers who had lost their lives while being engaged in cleaning drainages and manholes and the amount of compensation paid to them.

The Bench also asked the government to provide the details on how it would be adopting the technology to clean drainages and manholes without engaging manual workers.

''No manual worker should be engaged for cleaning drainages, sewage and manholes till a solution was found on this issue'', the Bench said and posted the case for further hearing after three weeks.

It may be recalled that the Court, on a PIL filed by Social Activist Narayanan, had restrained the local bodies from engaging workers to clean drainages The petitioner contended that though there was a ban on cleaning human waste by human beings, the local body authorities were still utilising the services of a particular community for getting the work done following which the court had banned employing human beings for cleaning drainage and manholes.

UNI XR-GV AKJ KN1840

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