New Delhi: The Delhi High court on Friday directed the Delhi government’s department of welfare to compile data from all local bodies on the number of manual scavengers in each district, the cleaning equipment provided to them and prosecutions carried out for employing people for manually cleaning drains.
The matter assumes significance as 2 men died after inhaling toxic gases when they were trapped inside a sewage treatment plant of Taj Vivanta Ambassador hotel in Lutyens’ Delhi on 29 April.
According to the police, 5 men were trapped inside the plant and they were not wearing any safety gear.
The direction by a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla was issued to the Secretary, Department of Welfare (SC/ST/OBC) of the Delhi government, who has been given three weeks time to get the information sought by the court which has also asked for details of the facilities such as health security and insurance cover being provided to the workers.
The court directed the official to prepare a simple form for procurement of the information and to circulate it to all the local bodies, including the municipal bodies, the Delhi Jal Board, the Delhi Cantonment Board and the Public Works Department.
The local bodies in turn have been directed to furnish the information sought within 2 weeks of receiving the forms.
The bench made it clear that in case of non-compliance with the direction by any official of any of the local bodies, it will initiate contempt of court action against them.
“If we cannot get this done, we should wind up our court work,” it said while issuing the directions and listing the matter for further hearing on 23 May.
The order came while court was hearing a PIL filed in 2007 for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
It had earlier termed as “disgraceful” the existence of manual scavenging in the city despite a law prohibiting such a practice.