A local BJP corporator in Mangaluru, Karnataka unclogged a stormwater drain after workers refused to enter the manhole during monsoon. Pictures of Manohar Shetty, a BJP corporator from Kadri Kambla ward, emerging out of a stormwater drain is doing rounds on social media.
The 47-year-old said that the stormwater drain near the Kadri Kambla junction has always been an issue, especially during the rainy season. Water overflows from the manhole chamber and floods the road, making it difficult for motorists and pedestrians, said the corporator.
Manohar Shetty reached the spot to assess the situation on Tuesday after complaints of the drain overflowing. He called for two workers to open the manhole. The workers refused to enter the manhole, as it has been banned by law.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 bans the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks by humans.
“Because of the monsoons, the labourers were skeptical to go down the manhole. Also, it’s not good to force people when they are apprehensive. So I decided to check it myself,” Shetty told The News Minute, adding that he is familiar with issues in the civil construction sector as he is a contractor himself.
“The main agenda was to get the issue solved at the earliest. When I went down, I saw there was a clog and if it was removed, it could solve the issue to a great extent,” he said.
Shetty then changed his clothes and went down the manhole to clear the clog. “It is not a sewage drain so it does not amount to manual scavenging," claimed the corporator.
However, while stormwater drains are intended to carry excess rainwater, they are usually used as sewage drains since the two frequently mix.
"There was some garbage and leaves that were stuck. I was soon joined by three other party workers and together, in a couple of hours, we cleaned the clog,” he added.
Shetty added that he informed the Mangalore City Corporation pourakarmikas (civic workers) the following day and got the stormwater drain thoroughly cleaned.
“I became a corporator with an intention to serve the people. Even though we were elected in November 2019, it took over three months for the Council to form. We were unable to take up development work until then. Finally, when we got the charge, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and lockdown was announced,” says Shetty.
An aluminium fabrication contractor by profession, Manohar Shetty is a first-time corporator of Kadri Kambla ward.
“The times are tough and I am always up for challenges,” he said, adding that he has been appointed by the MP to be a part of the COVID-19 war room and is in charge of food distribution.