NHRC takes suo motu cognizance of yet another incident of manual cleaning of muck in Delhi

NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report with the photographs of a man chest-deep in a muck standing inside a drain in the Kashmere Gate area of Delhi, reportedly under the PWD Department. The Commission has observed that the incident indicates that despite unwarranted deaths in sewers and sheer indignity of the work, manual cleaning of drains continues in the National Capital.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi calling for a detailed report by specifically intimating the measures that the Government of Delhi has already taken or likely to be taken to prevent such gross violation of human rights of poor and underprivileged people, who are susceptible to be employed for this type of manual scavenging or sewage cleaning without any mechanical device by the public/ private organizations. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has also observed that despite specific judgments given by the Apex Court and guidelines issued from time to time by different government agencies, the sewage workers are still being exposed to extreme danger and being subjected to indignity by the public authorities.

The Commission had also issued Advisory on Protection of Human Rights of the person engaged in Manual Scavenging or Hazardous Cleaning on 24th September, 2021, which was circulated to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administrator of all UTs and the Union Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Housing and Urban Affairs and to the Secretary, National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.

According to the media report, carried on 3rd April, 2022, the NHRC had taken suo motu cognizance of an incident two days back in which four persons had died in a sewer in Rohini area of Delhi. Reportedly, such incidents clearly show that the manual cleaning of sewer is still being allowed by the government agencies and the poor workers taking advantage of the desperately needy who out of sheer necessity accepts the hazardous work for the mere income.

National Human Rights Commission

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