Dalit factions say the practice continues despite the ban in Dakshina Kannada

Various factions of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) on Sunday alleged at a meeting called to hear grievances of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the Police Commissioner's office that the practice of manual scavenging had continued in the city despite the ban.

DSS (Bheemavada) activist P. Keshav said 30 people were engaged in manual scavenging on contract basis.

“These people have to enter the tank and clear the blocks as the machines used by the Mangalore City Corporation only suck out the liquid.” He said these workers worked without any protective gear and were paid a meagre sum.

“In the event of accident, the corporation washes off its hands saying they are not its workers.” Mr. Keshav said services of these workers should be made permanent. DSS (Ambedkarwada) District Convener S.P. Anand said there were only two machines available with the corporation for clearing septic tanks. Of the two, only one was working, he said.

Corporation Commissioner Harish Kumar toldThe Hinduthat there were three machines used for cleaning sceptic tanks and all three were in working condition. Mr. Kumar said there was no question of allowing manual scavenging in the city. “I held a meeting of officials and reiterated the Government's policy of using machines for cleaning septic tanks.”

On Friday's incident, in which a corporation contractor had allegedly employed a person for cleaning a septic tank on Azizuddin Road, Mr. Kumar said show-cause notice had been issued to the Executive Engineer, the Assistant Executive Engineer, and the Junior Engineer. Based on their reply and the factual report by the Joint Commissioner, he would take disciplinary action against the officials. He would send a separate report to the Deputy Commissioner in the next three days.

Their inquiry would be separately carried out in addition to the one being done by the police, Mr. Kumar said. Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda rejected the demand for regularising the services of the 30 workers who cleaned the septic tanks. “That is a banned practice and we cannot make them permanent. But the Government is ready to help them if these people want to take up any other occupation to earn their living,” he toldThe Hindu.

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