On the morning of 01.07.2021, three sewer workers died in Silvassa, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli while cleaning sewers. A similar incident took place in the Beur locality of Bihar’s capital, Patna where two laborers lost their lives.
It can be noticed that the workers who are employed in sewer work are usually from the oppressed communities– as in the case of Silvassa, the workers were tribal, and in Beur, the workers were Muslim.
The company and contractors knowingly put the lives of laborers in extreme danger by not taking the required necessary action of providing them with safety gear.
Employing any person as a manual scavenger except in extreme situations is prohibited by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. As per the Supreme Court guidelines, the family of a person who dies while cleaning a sewer hole or a septic tank is entitled to compensation of Rupees 10 lakhs.
As pointed out by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch, The compensation of Rs 10 lakh for death and Rs 2.5 lakh for the disease is very little, because compensation should be calculated according to loss of earning capacity.
Unless workers get higher compensation, work will never become safe, because it will always be cheaper to pay for the occasional dead worker, who is forced to work in the sewer, rather than make conditions safer.
It is a matter of shame that despite elaborate laws and procedures, workers continue to die in sewers and culprits roam scot-free.