The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other top officials.
New Delhi: After ten deaths, authorities in Delhi today decided to fully mechanise cleaning sewers and made it clear that any violation would attract punishment up to life imprisonment.
Water minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said the Delhi Jal Board CEO, municipal commissioners and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) chairman had been asked to prepare a report within 15 days on the procurement of mechanical cleaners.
The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and top officials of all concerned agencies, including civic bodies and the DJB.
“Directions issued for 100% migration to mechanisation for sewers/drains cleaning. Strict regime to be prepared within seven days. Intensive publicity of laid down norms for observance by contractors. Police to take stringent action against defaulters,” the LG said in a series of tweets.
The LG described deaths caused while cleaning sewers as “unacceptable”.
In todays meeting, Baijal directed the DJB CEO to prepare standard operating procedures for cases requiring emergency manual intervention as per the law within a weeks time.
Baijal also directed the Delhi police to take stringent and deterrent action against contractors violating the law.
Briefing reporters separately, Gautam said no one would be allowed to enter sewers for manual cleaning in the national capital.
The authorities will press for stringent action and may recommend punishment under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against agencies or private contractors behind any violation, Gautam said.
Hoardings will be put up across the city announcing the prohibitions and also displaying helplines for authorised cleaning of sewers and septic tanks so that people would not engage workers privately, he said.
“The deaths are painful and should shame us. There are instances of manual cleaning at malls, farm houses. But we do not have a proper list as of now,” he said.
Kejriwal has called a meeting with executive engineers and senior officials of the DJB tomorrow on the same issue.
Yesterday, a 45-year-old sanitation worker died and three others were taken ill allegedly while cleaning a sewer at the government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in central Delhi.
In three separate incidents over a month, nine people died in similar circumstances.