The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has decided to procure 80 trucks — to be pressed into service to clean septic tanks at more than 800 unauthorised colonies housing a population of around 45 lakh — where sewer lines have not reached, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Friday.
DJB CEO Nikhil Kumar told reporters that out of the capital’s 1,797 notified unauthorised colonies, 430 have sewer lines. The work for installing sewer pipelines in another 400 colonies is in progress, while the rest are dependent on septic tanks which are mostly cleaned by informal workers without any safety gear, leading to deaths and injuries, Kumar said.
The trucks, for which tendering will be carried out within a month, will be procured under the ‘Mukhyamantri Septic Tank Safai Yojana’, Kejriwal said.
The scheme will ensure the safety of sanitation workers and proper septic waste management to prevent contamination of river Yamuna, he added.
The announcement follows the Union Cabinet’s approval to regularise unauthorised colonies. The Cabinet decision awaits the nod of the Parliament and a mapping exercise by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which are among the many conditions that are to be fulfilled before awarding ownership rights to residents of these colonies.
“We often hear about unfortunate incidents involving sanitation workers who are deployed to clean septic tanks. The private agencies involved in the maintenance and cleaning of the tanks do not have a valid licence to do so. They carry out such activities in an unauthorised and illegal manner and do not provide any safety equipment to workers, hence putting their lives at risk. The waste collected from septic tanks is often disposed of into the drains across the city, causing groundwater contamination and water pollution,” Kejriwal said.
Under the scheme, people will be able to book services of the trucks by dialling a dedicated helpline.
The DJB, which is the city’s nodal agency on water resources, will provide safety equipment to workers deployed for the cleaning of septic tanks, an official statement said.