“We should stop manual scavenging to prevent deaths due to this work and to uplift the community,” said advocate Dennis.

People working in the drains without protective gears
news Manual scavenging Monday, August 10, 2020 - 21:02

On Monday, advocate Dennis received information from some passersby that a few workers were clearing an open drainage system at Sai Baba Colony in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. When he reached the spot, he saw a group of four contract workers cleaning an open drainage system without masks, gloves or other protective gears. 

Dennis, who had already stopped manual scavenging work earlier, immediately stopped these four workers from engaging in the work without protective gears. 

A video taken from the spot shows the four men standing in the pit and picking the waste with hands and shovel. In one part of the video, Dennis can be heard requesting the workers to come out of the drain. Although they were reluctant, they eventually stepped out. “I threatened them that I will file a complaint with the police if they continued to engage in manual scavenging,” said Dennis.

 

He made them understand that the law has prohibited manual scavenging as an employment and the Prohibition of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 provides protection to workers.

"Though they got out of the drainage, they are angry with me because they could not earn their daily wages. But we cannot help, because we need to stop the practice," Dennis told TNM. 

He had earlier stopped some men from manual scavenging on 100ft Road in Coimbatore. “I am doing this continuously because I strongly believe that we need to stop deaths due to manual scavenging by stopping the act itself," said Dennis.

About the first time when he stopped manual scavenging, the advocate said, “Based on my previous complaint, the Collector took action a Corporation official for involving workers to manually clean the sewer line. So I have once again alerted the Collector to take action in the issue.”

"In Coimbatore", he said, “most of the people involved in manual scavenging are from the Arunthathiyar (scheduled caste) community. The literacy rate among them is low. If the parents die, the child is forced into this work. Hence, to stop this, we need to stop the parents from engaging in this kind of work. We should also stop the deaths and encourage the mechanised practice of cleaning the sewer.”

Read: ‘Not given masks or boots’: Brother of manual scavenging worker who died in Chennai mall

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