In perhaps the first instance of its kind, officials at the HAL Police Station had registered a case against officials of the BBMP in connection with the deaths.

Sanitary workers condemn BBMP for protesting arrest of officials in manual scavenging case
news Manual Scavenging Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 08:58
The BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas Union has condemned the BBMP for protesting against the arrest of two officials in connection with a case of manual scavenging which led to the deaths of two people on February 13. 
 
Two men, who had gone down to clean the septic tank of a restaurant in ACS Layout, died within minutes of entering the tank sending officials into a tizzy. The incident came a month after three men died cleaning a manhole in HSR Layout. 
 
Following the incident, in perhaps the first instance of its kind, officials at the HAL Police Station not only registered a case against the hotel owners but also booked officials of the BBMP. The Health Inspector and the Deputy Health Officer of the BBMP were arrested on the day of the tragic incident.
 
The BBMP officials – Devaraj, senior health inspector, and Kalpana, deputy health officer – were held for allegedly issuing an illegal license for the restaurant to operate from the basement of a building.
 
BBMP workers took to the streets on Monday in protest of the arrests citing that proper procedure had not been followed before making the arrests. “Before filing an FIR, police should seek a report from the Palike commissioner, which was not done in either of the two cases,” BBMP chief N Manjunatha Prasad said speaking to Times of India.
 
While all 198 ward offices across the city were shut, health and education departments functioned as usual. Linemen, health inspectors, permanent pourakarmikas and engineers were among those who joined the protest.
 
BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas Union criticised the BBMP officials for going on a strike. “The step taken by the police to arrest the concerned official is a landmark step in the right direction, taking into consideration the gravity of the offence and need to ensure the stoppage of such a practice immediately. However, the steps taken by the BBMP officials in holding a strike and a protest is a clear retrograde step that attempts to protect officials without taking into consideration their duties and obligations under law,” read a statement by the Union. 
 
Manual scavenging is banned across India. Employing a manual scavenger has been made a cognisable offence with imprisonment and a fine since 1993, and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 and a Supreme Court ruling state the same.
 
In this instance, the two deceased – Ramu and Ravi – both from Raichur were employed as contract pourakarmikas, but were forced to manually clean tanks to make a living as their ATM cards and passbooks were reportedly taken away by the contractor.

 

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.