It is in connection with a PIL on manual scavenging

Expressing displeasure over steps taken to mechanise the process of cleaning of sewerage in the State in spite of orders passed by it earlier, the Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the chairpersons of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) to be personally present in the court on January 31.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka in 2009 on manual scavenging and deaths of workers engaged in it.

Following this PIL, the court had earlier entrusted the task of studying the problem to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA), which in June 2011 submitted report on the issues and its recommendations.

UGD facility

The KSLSA pointed out that there is no underground drainage (UGD) facility in 56 municipal councils, 66 town municipal councils and 13 city municipal councils and suggested that the State should be directed to take steps to ensure that there is an UGD facility.

It also recommended mechanisation of sewerage cleaning system through jetting equipment, among a series of suggestions.

Based on this report, the Government in July last year had given an undertaking to the court that it would provide one jetting machine to each urban local body in six months besides buying 48 more such machines for Bangalore city in addition to the existing 76 machines.

“They (chairpersons BWSSB and KUWSDB) have taken courts orders too lightly. Human beings are dying in gutters. Non-compliance with the undertaking given to this court shall entail serious consequences…,” the Bench observed during the hearing on the PIL on Monday on noticing the lapse on the part of the State.

School merger issue

While justifying its decision to merge primary and secondary schools with less than 5 students with other schools in the vicinity of three km, the State Government has claimed that the decision was taken in the interest of the students.

In its written response to the PIL filed by litterateurs, G.S. Shivarudrappa and others, challenging the decision, the Government stated that decision was taken to provide better learning environment, to enhance competitiveness, and teacher-student interaction in schools. The Government also said that it will be giving conveyance allowance of Rs. 300 per month to each student who will have to travel to the nearby school due to the merger.