New Delhi, Sep 4: On one hand the entire country was agitated over the SC/ST Act and the government buckled under pressure from the community to go against the SC decision and make amendment in it while on the other SC/ST commission managed to get Rs 8 crore compensation to 96 workers who had died while cleaning septic tanks and main holes of drainages.
Activists working against this practice say that this is an inhuman practice and assistance of technology was a better option. As per data available with the SC/ST commission close to 96 people have died working in hazardous condition in sewages and out of that 17 alone were from Delhi. The data goes up 74 in the past five years.
Chairman of the national scheduled caste and scheduled tribe commission Ram Shankar Katheria said these matters were registered between August 2017 and June 2018. The commission ordered paying Rs 8 crore compensation to several state governments and private units including Taj Group of Hotels. Katheria said that the effort of the commission has always been to get compensation to the family member of deceased as soon as possible. There is a Supreme Court guideline to provide Rs 10 lakh compensation to person dying while cleaning sewage. However, in some of the cases the state governments were not ready to cough out compensation money despite even after the Supreme Court order.
Some of the state governments are having very casual approach about this as recently a cleanliness worker Somnath Sahu died in Anjora Village Panchayat of Chhattisgarh and the matter is still pending with the commission and the state government is arguing that Sahu came to work along with daily wage earners and died. So Gram Panchayat refused to accept him as its worker and denied compensation.
Katheria said that in most of the cases compensation has been given but hearing is continuing in some other cases but very soon order will be given for compensation in rest of the cases. He said that provision of compensation was there after imposing SC/ST Act.
In May this year five people fell severely ill due to poisonous gas at the time of cleaning of sewage plant at Taj Vivanta and two of them died. The SC/ST Commission ordered Rs 70 Lakh compensation. Taj Vivanta Group compliant the order and paid the compensation besides compensation it promised job to the affected family and free education to their children.
Activists working against this practice have been demanding use of machine for these things so human loss could be avoided.