Four days after seven persons died cleaning a septic tank at a hotel in Vadodara’s Dabhoi, the rural police arrested owner Hassan Abbas and his brother Imdad Bohraniya, who was the manager of the eatery, from Fatehgunj area of the city on Tuesday night.
On the other hand, the Vadodara district administration sealed Darshan hotel on Tuesday.
Vadodara rural Superintendent of Police Tarun Duggal said police in plain clothes were deployed outside the residences of Hassan and his close relatives, including his brother, in Vadodara, Bharuch and Mehsana for the last three days. “Today (Tuedsay) around 9.20 pm, Hassan and his brother came to the latter’s house in Fatehgunj and were nabbed by our team there,” said Duggal.
District Development Officer Kiran Jhaveri said the hotel will remain sealed until the investigation is completed.
HC seeks report from state on scavenging
Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court Tuesday sought a detailed report from the state government about the implementation of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
The HC ordered the state government to file the report by June 25 in response to a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking implementation of the Act in its entirety.
The court had in fact sought the report in an earlier order, more than six months ago, but the report is yet to be filed.
Hirak Ganguly, representing petitioner Manav Garima — a people’s organisation of Valmiki community in Ahmedabad — said the state’s report is expected to contain details of adherence to various aspects such as if safety equipments are provided for, as stipulated under the Act. “Other specific aspects pertains to the sections related to the survey of manual scavengers in urban areas, responsibility of local authorities to ensure elimination of such dehumanising acts and conferment of powers to appropriate authorities for implementing provisions of this Act. We are also looking at the implementation of sections 22 (offence be regarded as cognizable and non-bailable) and 24 (constituting a Vigilance Committee) of the Act.”
Ganguly said that the PIL was initially filed in 2016 to ensure compensation for the families who lost members to manual scavenging, however, now the Act and its implementation was being looked at and prayed for. “It is especially pertinent after the death of the seven people last week in Dabhoi,” added Ganguly.
‘Punish guilty officials’
The Vadodara city Congress also demanded action against the government officials at fault and submitted a memorandum to the district collector on Tuesday.
The Congress leaders stated that despite apprising the concerned officials about the hotel and its drainage system, no action was taken. “The local residents had submitted written applications to the concerned authorities multiple times against the owner of Darshan hotel. But, no action was taken by the authorities. We demand that the role of these officials also be investigated,” the memorandum stated.
“On 4-10-18, the local residents had submitted a memorandum apprising the authorities against the owner of the hotel regarding the stench emanating from a drain outside and the hazardous effect it could have on the health of the people. The owner also used to dispose dirty water from his hotel into the nearby farms. On 16-10-18, the taluka development officer, a police inspector and Dabhoi block health officer were also informed about this situation through a written memorandum. On 19-10-18, the mamlatdaar was informed. But despite repeated memoranda, no actions were taken. These officials are very much responsible for the deaths as the hotel owner,” it read.
The Congress also demanded that the families be fairly compensated as per the provisions laid down under the Act. “As per the law, the families should be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh at the earliest. Under the Act, the families of the deceased should be rehabilitated. They should be provided with a plot of land and the additional expenses needed for rehabilitation. If the deceased had children, then they should be provided with scholarships. One member of their family should also be given skill-development training and a monthly stipend,” the memorandum stated.
District Development Officer Jhaveri said they have initiated a probe into the role of government officials, if any. “We have also initiated an investigation to verify the memoranda,” Jhaveri said.