Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has directed Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam to investigate why no meeting of the state committee on manual scavenging, which is chaired by him, has been held since its formation in December 2017 — in violation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.
On Monday, the committee met for the first time, during which Kejriwal directed Gautam to submit a report within a week.
Under the Act, a state-level monitoring committee chaired by the CM or a minister nominated by him should meet every six months. The panel was formed in the capital last December, but met for the first time on Monday.
Surveys undertaken by district magistrates to identify manual scavengers has thrown up a count of 45. These manual scavengers are spread across Shahdara, East and North East districts.
“Other districts reported zero figures. But deaths have been taking place. So the district magistrates have been instructed to undertake surveys again. For any death, they will be held responsible,” Gautam said. There have been six sewer deaths in the capital since September 9.
The Scheduled Castes Welfare secretary, who is the member secretary of the committee, was asked to prepare a standard operating procedure to implement the Act, while the additional district magistrates (ADMs) were directed to review all cases of sewer deaths in the last five years and try the accused under provisions of the Act.
“People should desist from privately employing labourers to clean sewers. If they do and deaths take place, then they will be tried under IPC section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder),” Gautam said.