Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced the launch of the specially fabricated sewer cleaning machines for manual scavengers in the capital.
Speaking at the launch event held in Delhi, Kejriwal said that this would be a historic day. “So far, only one community of people were tasked with cleaning sewers. No governments ever tried to help this community.,” Kejriwal said, adding that no community can be held solely responsible for cleaning sewers.
He announced that manual scavengers would now own these special sewer cleaning machines so that they do not have to do hard, humiliating labour anymore. “These machines will not only help them earn more but also give them respect,” Kejriwal said. The CM also announced that the sewer cleaning system of Delhi would be overhauled. “Earlier, sewers were only cleaned by the Delhi Jal Board in case of complaints. Now, we will look at a more preventive technique of cleaning sewers,” Kejriwal said.
AAP’s Facebook page posted a video of the announcement online with the caption, “Today Arvind Kejriwal didn’t wash feet of manual scavengers, but gave them special fabricated sewer cleaning machines.” The announcement comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent video in which he was seen washing the feet of sanitation workers on Sunday.
Earlier, the AAP government had announced its plans to use ‘Bandicoot’ technology to mechanise sewer cleaning, as has been commissioned by the municipal governments in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
After 2013, the government recognised 12,742 manual scavengers in 13 states, with 82% of them in Uttar Pradesh. However, the 2011 Census records the presence of 740,078 households where waste and excreta is cleared out by manual scavengers. In the last ten years, Safai Karamchari andolan puts the number of sewer deaths at approximately 1,500.