PIL plea for ban on manual cleaning of manholes

The Madras High Court on Monday ordered notice on a public interest litigation petition to prohibit the authorities from deploying human beings to enter into manholes for removing silt and sludge.

The civic bodies should use only mechanical devices and also take steps on a war-footing to protect stormwater drains from all sources of pollution such as sewage, human faeces and industrial effluents.

The court ordered that the notice be returnable by January 19.

The petitioner, CHANGE India, represented by its director, A. Narayanan, said civic bodies in the State employed unorganised workers, including entire families, through the contract system to desilt the stormwater drains. This method of cleaning the drain was hazardous to the life and limb of contract workers. The municipal authorities considered themselves as not accountable for the safety and well-being of the contract workers because they were not directly employed by them.

The steps that had been taken to prevent illegal sewer connections and dumping of garbage in stormwater drains had proved completely inadequate till date, the petitioner said.

‘This method of cleaning is hazardous to the life and limb of contract workers’