Safaikarmachari Kavalu Samithi-Karnataka has prepared a Situation Assessment Report on Manual Scavenging practice in Karnataka. The report can be read below.Manual-Scavenging-in-Karnataka-A-Situation-Assessment
On 25th January, just one day before Republic Day, the management of Sri Svethambar Sthanakwasi Bawees Sampraday Jain Sangha Trust located on the Infantry Road in Shivajinagar Bengaluru, employed Muniyanna (~50 years) and Sidappa (17 years) to clean an approximately 20 feet deep chamber into which sewage was being discharged. Sidappa went in first and fell unconscious. Muniyanna went to save him and he also feel unconcious. Workers working on premises rused to save both of them. Sidappa was broght dead to the hospital while Muniyanna was admitted to the ICU of Bowring hospital. On 29th Janunary 2020, Muniyanna also passed away.
The doctors said that his lungs were filled with sewage. There was foul smelling sewage in the chamber and it was strewn all around the chamber. Despite this, the police officials at the Commercial Street Police Station refused to accept a complaint and file a FIR. Only after a protest outside the mortuary and pressure from lawyers was a FIR filed late evening on 25th January 2020.
A protest was organized jointly by AICCTU, Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka, People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), All India People’s Forum (AIPF) and Karnataka Slum Janadolana on 27th January 2020 at Town Hall in Bengaluru urging government to take urgent steps to stop killig of Dalit workers. Labour Commissioner came and received the memorandum.
- The News Minute, ‘17-yr-old dead after being made to clean sewage chamber in Bengaluru’, Jan 25, 2020.
- India Today, ‘Boy dies inside manhole in Bengaluru, went inside for Rs 600‘, Jan 25, 2020.
- Prajavani, ‘ಶೌಚಗುಂಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಉಸಿರುಗಟ್ಟಿ ಕಾರ್ಮಿಕ ಸಾವು‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- The New Indian Express, ‘Worker dies while cleaning septic tank in Bengaluru‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- The New Indian Express, ‘Siddanna did not know anything about cleaning septic tanks: Kin‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- The Hindu, ‘Labourer dies while cleaning pit in Shivajinagar‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- Deccan Herald, ‘19-year-old boy from Ballari dies while cleaning septic tank in Bengaluru‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- BangaloreMirror, ‘19-yr-old dies cleaning manhole in Shivajinagar‘ Jan 26, 2020.
- The News Minute, ‘Never ending tragedy: Bengaluru blue collar workers protest manual scavenging deaths‘, Jan 27, 2020.
- Prajavani, ‘ಅಲಕ್ಷ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಆಕ್ರೋಶ‘ Jan 28, 2020.
- Vijeth Veerappa Saliyan, ‘Aioo! Why Did A Manual Scavenger Die On Republic Day!‘, Jan 26, 2020.
- Velivada, ‘Drape The Tiranga On The Asphyxiated Body Of Siddappa‘.
- The New Indian Express, ‘‘Death of manual scavengers is institutional murder’‘, Jan 28, 2020.
- The New Indian Express, ‘Bengaluru: Labourer’s death, while trying to save colleague, leaves family devastated‘, Jan 29, 2020.
- The New Indian Express, ‘Despite ban on occupation, 50,000 manual scavengers risk their lives in Bengaluru‘ Jan 29, 2020.
- The Hindu, ‘Pit-cleaning incident: Second labourer too dies‘, Jan 29, 2020.
- Pravajani, ‘ಶೌಚಗುಂಡಿಗೆ ಮತ್ತೊಬ್ಬ ಬಲಿ‘, Jan 29, 2020.
- The New Indian Express, ‘For sewer cleaners in Bengaluru’s Manyata Tech Park, life is a dark and hopeless pit‘, Jan 31, 2020.
Because of the continued occurrence of manual scavenging deaths in Bengaluru city, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) in a meeting held on 12.07.2019 under the Chairpersonship of the Additional Chief Secretary, was tasked with providing training to sanitation workers engaged in cleaning private Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), open drains, gutters, manholes using private Sucking and Jetting Machines etc. including the 202 persons who had been identified by BBMP as manual scavengers in 2013.
An advertisement was issued inviting applications for the trainings. Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka assisted the Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission in identifying the participants for the trainings. So far, 177 workers have been trained as part of 3 batches. At the end of training, the participants were given certificates and BWSSB, Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Development Corporation and Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission will come up with a scheme to facilitate employment opportunities to the trained workers.
Details of Trainings being provided by BWSSB to Sanitation Workers
|Batch||Dates||No. of Participants||Men||Women|
|1||18 – 30 Nov 2019||38||37||1|
|2||9 – 21 Dec 2019||75||72||3|
|3||6 – 18 Jan 2020||64||64||0|
Photos (Batch 1 – 18 – 30 Nov 2019)
Photos (Batch 2 – 9 – 21 Dec 2019)
Photos (Batch 3 – 6 – 18 Jan 2020)
On its fifth day, the State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging from Karnataka being organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka (SKKS) moved from Kolar district to Bengaluru Rural district on its fifth day. A rally was taken out by the workers culminating into a sit-in front of the Deputy Commissioner office against the ineffective implementation of the Prohibiton of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. The rally started at 12:00 pm and reached the office at 1:00 pm. The DC received the memorandum at 2:00 pm.Memorandum-to-DC
The first phase of the State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging finished on 3rd January 2020. The next leg of the jatha would begin in the third week of January.
On its fourth day, the State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging from Karnataka being organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka (SKKS) moved from Dharwad district south to Kolar on its fourth day. A rally was taken out by the worker culminating into a sit-in front of the Deputy Commissioner office against the ineffective implementation of the Prohibiton of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
In Kolar district over 550 persons have been identified as manual scavengers but several of them are yet to be rehabilitated fully. A rally was taken out to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Office. When the jatha reached the DC Officer, the officials informed us that the DC was not available to receive our Memorandum despite advance initimation. Instead of handing over the Memorandum to junior officials the Samithi members staged a sit-in for 3 hours till the DC came in person to receive the memorandum and have a discussion with the contingent.Memorandum
As the year 2020 rolled in, the State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging from Karnataka being organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka (SKKS) moved from Haveri to Dharwad district on its third day. A sit-in was organized by the district level SKKS body in front of the Deputy Commissioner office against the ineffective implementation of the Prohibiton of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
A representative of the Deputy Commissioner, met the protestors and accepted the Memorandum on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner.Memorandum-to-CM-ack
- Times of India, “Civic Workers Protest in Dharwad“, Dharwad.
- Deccan Herald, “Samithi Demands Fulfillment of various demands of Civic Workers“, Dharwad.
- Prajavani, “ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಈಡೇರಿಕೆಗೆ ಆಗ್ರಹಿಸಿ ಧಾರಣೆ“,
- Vijayavani “ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಈಡೇರಿಕೆಗೆ ಆಗ್ರಹಿಸಿ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆ“, Dharwad.
- Vijaya Karnataka, “ಸಫಾಯಿ ಕರ್ಮಚಾರಿ ಕಾವಲು ಸಮಿತಿ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆ: ನಾನಾ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಈಡೇರಿಕೆಗೆ ಆಗ್ರಹ“, Dharwad.
- Samyukta Karnataka, “ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಈಡೇರಿಕೆಗೆ ಆಗ್ರಹಿಸಿ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆ“, Dharwad.
The State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging from Karnataka being organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka (SKKS) moved from Davangere to Haveri district on its second day, 31st Dec 2019. The campaign in Haveri began with a Press Meet.
Haveri district has not bee very active in identifying persons working as manual scavengers. During the survey conducted in 2016 in the rural areas of the district, only 8 persons were identified and they also are yet to get any rehabilitation. Hence, one of the main issued discussed with the District administration was expediting the process in the district.
A memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister through the Deputy Commissioner.Memorandum-to-CM-Haveri-ack
The State-level Jatha for eradication of Manual Scavenging from Karnataka which is being organized by Safaikarmachari Kavulu Samithi-Karnataka (SKKS) began on 30th Dec 2019 from Davangere. The Jatha began with cultural team performing songs and street play and garlanding the status of Dr. B R Ambedkar.
A memorandum was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Davangere district regarding the unresolved issues of manual scavengers in Davangere district. In 2018, after a two-year long struggle, 156 persons had been identified as manual scavengers by the Davangere City Corporation. This identification itself was a culmination of the process that began in Davangere during the State-level Jatha organized by SKKS in 2016. But since the identification and the issuance of Identity Cards in 2018, no further rehabilitation has been provided by the administration to these 156 persons.
Additionally, in the recently concluded survey of Manual Scavengers in Davangere district, SKKS had facilitatied filing of 454 applications for identification across the 6 Urban Local Bodoes (Davangere City Corporation, Harihara CMC, Chanagiri TMC, Melebennuru TMC, Honnali TP and Jagaluru TP) in the district. Out of these, over 300 applications have been accepted. The Deputy Commissioner was also urged to expedite the process of rehabilitation of the newly identified persons also. A comprehensive memorandum was also submitted to the Chief Minister through the Deputy Commissioner.Memorandum-to-CM-Davangere-ack
On 2nd April 2019, the owners of Amar International Hotel at Chadachan Road in Indi Town of Vijayapura district, asked Gudusaab Bagwaan (40), Nabilal Ekkewale (32) and Lalappa Madar (35) to clean the septic tank behind the hotel. The workers went inside the septic tank around 4 pm in the evening and never came back. The hotel owners checked the tank only at 7 pm and saw someone lying unconscious in the tank. When they called out, there was no response from any of the workers. The owners called the police along with Fire brigade. The body of Lallappa Madar, belonging to Dalit community, was brought out first but to get the bodies of the remaining two workers, JCB had to be brought to break open the tank.
On 27th April 2019, in a similar incident on Nagwara Main Road in Bengaluru City, two workers – Gafoor Pasha (45) and Aftab Pasha (38) – died while cleaning a well which was being used to dump sewage. On March 2, 2019, in a similar incident in Bengaluru city, a worker had died while cleaning a chamber of a private school on Bengaluru Main Road. The number of manual scavenging deaths in Karnataka has now crossed 80 and it does not look like that the trend of these deaths are going to end anytime soon because of complete absence of political will from the state government. Because of the pressure built by Dalit and Human Rights organizations, while compensation is being provided to the families of the deceased workers and FIRs are being registered promptly, the government has completely failed in taking steps towards preventing such deaths. There are two aspects to prevention of manual scavenging: 1) making technology available and 2) ensuring criminal action against those who employ human beings, in most cases dalits, as manual scavengers.
As part of a PIL filed by PUCL in 2009 (WP 30221/2009), the Karnataka High Court had ordered government to buy Sucking and Jetting Machines for all Urban Local Bodies. After these orders, each Urban Local Body was provided with minimum one Sucking and Jetting Machine. BWSSB has 125 S&J machines. But in many towns, these machines are lying idle. Some have broken down, some urban local bodies have not hired drivers and operators, while others have not publicized how people can request services of these machines. With machines becoming available, slowly and slowly, government bodies are being forced under public pressure to stop using manual scavengers in maintenance of sewers and manholes, but most cities do not have UGD coverage and houses and establishments rely on septic tanks and chambers. While few years back, most of the manual scavenging deaths were happening when government was employing manual scavengers for cleaning the sewers and manholes, off late a majority of deaths are happening when private persons like house owners or hotel or hospital or school owners hire workers for cleaning septic tanks or chambers. Thus ensuring that enough numbers of machines are available, and can be easily requested by private persons by calling a helpline number is a necessary step towards prevention of manual scavenging.
Indi Town also got one Sucking and Jetting Machine after this order which can be hired for 1500 rupees, but the hotel owners preferred using workers as manual scavengers for cleaning the septic tank. So, while availability of machines is necessary, it is not sufficient. Since, most people doing this work come from Dalit community, there is no value for their lives. Hence, if someone hires a person as manual scavengers, ensuring strict punishment, will act as deterrent. Unfortunately, in over 40 cases of manual scavenging deaths that have occurred since the 2013 Manual Scavenging Act came into being, there has not been a single conviction! The government needs to treat these cases as special category cases and try them in fast track courts after appointing special public prosecutors. Unless this is ensured, every year we would be counting dead bodies.
On 02.03.2019, the administration of Jai Hind International School located near 11th Main, Hongasandra on Beguru Main Road in Bengaluru, reportedly engaged Manu (25), belonging to Lingayat community, for manually cleaning a septic tank/chamber into which the sewage from the toilets in the school empty out. Engaging any person for manual cleaning of septic tanks, which amounts to manual scavenging, is expressly prohibited by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PRMSR) Act 2013. Sec 2(d)(e) of the PEMSR Act defines hazardous cleaning as
d) “hazardous cleaning” by an employee, in relation to a sewer or septic tank, means its manual cleaning by such employee without the employer fulfilling his obligations to provide protective gear and other cleaning devices and ensuring observance of safety precautions, as may be prescribed or provided in any other law, for the time being in force or rules made thereunder;
Section 7 of the Act expressly prohibits manual cleaning of septic tanks and Sec 9 makes violations of this prohibition punishable offence:-
7. No person, local authority or any agency shall, from such date as the State Government may notify, which shall not be later than one year from the date of commencement of this Act, engage or employ, either directly or indirectly, any person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank;
9. Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 7 shall for the first contravention be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or with both, and for any subsequent contravention with imprisonment which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.
Sec 2(d) imposes obligations on the employer to provide protective and safety equipment to workers and to take precautions before, during and after any person is engaged in cleaning septic tanks. These obligations have been defined in Chapter II of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 encompassing Rules 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. But the private school which is affiliated with ICSE/IGCSE and claims to be an ‘International’ school providing facilities including a ‘swimming pool’, completely failed in discharging these obligations. In fact the BBMP Bomanahalli Zonal Office is just 1.5 kms away from the school, and the administration could have requested the services of a Jetting Machine, but the administration of the private school didn’t think twice before sending a person down a sewage pit.
Manu was not provided any safety equipment by the administration of the school and was assigned to clean the chamber without any supervision. When he fell into the pit, no body else was present at the spot. The pit was just 5 ft deep, and presence of any other person could have saved him. Only after several minutes of having fallen in the pit did somebody notice him and pull him out. By the time he was rushed to hospital, he had already died due to asphyxiation.
Manu came from the Lingayat community and is survived by his wife Nandini (22) who belongs to Adi-dravida (SC) community. Nadini says that their inter-caste marriage was never accepted by Manu’s mother and that is why they were living in a separate rented house in Hongasandra, just behind the school. Manu used to work as a casual labourer. They have a 4.5 year-old daughter.
Based on a complaint filed by Ms. Nandini at the Beguru Police Station, a case has been registered under Sec 9 of PEMSR Act 2013 and Sec 304A of Indian Penal Code. Three people of the administration of Jai Hind International School, namely Mr. Raghavan (owner), Ms. Saroja (Principal) and Mr. Kishore (Co-ordinator) have been arrested based on the complaint. While Ms. Saroja was granted bail on 04.03.2019, the other two accused were sent into judicial custody.
Clearly this is a case where death has occurred not due to negligence but due to a conscious act on the part of the accused persons who with deliberate knowledge that it is illegal and dangerous to allow a person to clean the pit, has willfully made the deceased person get into the pit without any safety equipment endangering his life and finally causing the death of the deceased and hence the correct provision of law to be invoked is Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 of IPC, 1860, as warranted by the facts of the case.
IPC Sec 304 Part II
Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death.
IPC Sec 338
Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.—Whoever causes grievous hurt to any person by doing any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life, or the personal safety of others, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
As specified above, sec 2(d) of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 read with Chapter II of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 create obligations on the employers to provide protective and safety equipment to workers and to take precautions before, during and after any person is engaged in cleaning septic tanks. But despite this common knowledge, the accused made a worker enter a septic tank completely unsupervised and without providing any safety or protective equipment whatsoever. Given these facts, Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 of IPC, 1860 are clearly attracted.
Since 2008, over 70 people have died while engaged in cleaning septic tanks and sewers. In Bangalore city alone, since the 2013 Act came into force, there have been over 20 cases of manual scavenging leading to over 30 deaths but so far the police has not been able to secure a single conviction in any of these cases. The state administration seems to think that in cases of deaths resulting from manual scavenging, its responsibility ends with providing compensation to the family. Since the Congress (I)-JD(S) coalition government has come to power, they have not appointed anyone to the post of Chairman of the Karnataka State Safaikarmachari Commission after relieving the previous Chairman before the end of the tenure. Since the establishment of the Safaikarmachari Development Corporation, the process of rehabilitation of those identified as Manual Scavengers has completely stalled in Karnataka.
Further Interventions Required
- Sec 304 Part II and Sec 338 should be immediately added to the FIR filed in the case at the Beguru Police Station.
- The Beguru Police Station should expedite the process of investigation and filing of charge sheet in the case.
- While providing compensation to the family of the deceased as per Supreme Court Judgement in Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors. Vs UOI [WP (C) 583/2003], the circumstances of inter-caste marriage between Mr. Manu and Ms. Nandini and non-acceptance of this marriage by Mr. Manu’s family should be kept in mind so as to ensure that Ms. Nandini and their daughter are not denied justice.
- The family of Mr. Manu should be provided rehabilitation as per the provisions of Sec 13 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
- The BBMP and BWSSB should jointly set-up a helpline which people can call to request services of Sucking and Jetting Machines and the helpline should be widely publicised.