Two days after the tragic death of three workers, who died of suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Sector 47 on Saturday, top officials of Chandigarh Administration continued to remain non-committal about the notification of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
The Act includes a ban on employing anyone to clean a sewer and all states and union territories were to notify it within a year.
In March 2013, the Supreme Court had directed all the states and union territories to completely ban manual scavenging.
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When contacted, top officials Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation said they were not aware if there had been a notification.
Chandigarh Administration’s senior-most bureaucrat, Vijay Dev, who is also Adviser to the UT Administrator, asked Newsline to check with Home Secretary Anurag Agarwal.
Agarwal said he did not know and said he would check with the commissioner, municipal corporation, on Tuesday.
The municipal corporation got its new commissioner, Bhavna Garg, on Monday. She replaces V P Singh who has been repatriated to his parent cadre, Punjab. Garg could not be reached despite repeated attempts.
Senior officers of the municipal corporation also said they did not know anything about it.
Mukesh Anand, chief engineer, municipal corporation, said, “I shall have to check it from my field staff. Only after that I can comment on the issue”.
Anand went on to justify manual scavenging and said, “While machines are used for cleaning sewer lines, many a time manual cleaning is required to remove construction material and other hard substances inside the inspection chambers of the manhole as machines are not capable of doing so”.
Two inquiries, firm yet to be blacklisted
Two days after MC failed to take fix accountability for the incident, Adviser to Administrator on Monday ordered a magisterial inquiry under the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Kashish Mittal, who will investigate the lapses at the level of contractor as well as the MC officials.
A vigilance inquiry has also been ordered to probe how the wife of a municipal corporation employee got a corporation contract. The contractor firm has not yet been blacklisted.