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Leave no stone unturned to prevent manual scavenging deaths: Gujarat HC

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The Times Of India
22nd October, 2019 21:25 IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court on Tuesday said no stone should be left unturned to prevent deaths due to manual scavenging and directed the state government to ensure that maintenance of sewerage pipelines is done "strictly in accordance" with rules.

In his oral order, Justice SR Brahmbhatt, hearing a PIL seeking compensation to kin of people who died during manual scavenging in the state, also directed the government to place on record whether compensatory measures were taken or compensation awarded in such deaths occurring in the state during the pendency of the petition.

"Once again, we reiterate that let there be no stone left unturned for preventing any further occurrence of such incidents, so far as maintenance of the sewerage pipelines is concerned, and it should be strictly in accordance with the Scavenging Act (Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavenging And Their Rehabilitation Act).

"The deaths occurred during the pendency of this petition, at least, should be taken note of, whether any compensatory measures have been taken or compensation is awarded to the victims' family," the bench said and kept the matter post vacation.

A division bench of justices Brahmbhatt and V P Patel had on Monday sought report on the deaths of two labourers in a manhole in Ahmedabad.

The government pleader informed the court on Tuesday that, according to a preliminary report, deaths were caused due to falling into a manhole when the labourers went to take measurement for drinking water pipeline, and did not fall under the purview of the Manual Scavenging Act. He said an FIR has been lodged in this connection.

NGO Manav Garima, which works for the rights of manual scavengers, had filed a PIL in 2016 seeking court's direction to the state government to comply with the Supreme Court's order regarding compensation to manual scavengers.

It also sought the court's direction to the state government to identify families of all persons who died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation of Rs 10 lakh to their family members.

The NGO had told the court that during the pendency of the petition, several deaths of manhole scavengers were reported in the state.

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