The Delhi High Court today pulled up the Public Works Department of the state government for the use of manual scavengers by contractors in de-silting drains.
The Delhi High Court today pulled up the Public Works Department (PWD) of the state government for the use of manual scavengers by contractors in de-silting drains. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg asked the PWD how it had allowed the prohibited activity of manual scavenging and why it was not supervising the work of its contractors. It asked the PWD to compile data on the number of manual scavengers being used by contractors and how it planned to deal with the problem. Three sanitation workers died of asphyxiation while cleaning a drain in Delhi last week.
The Delhi government department also faced flak from the court for the alleged levelling and encroachment of the Kushak storm water drain under the Barapullah flyover here. The bench told the PWD to initiate immediate action to remove all encroachments as well as buses parked there.
The court was also displeased with the conflicting statements made before it by the PWD, which earlier said work on the Barapullah bridge would be finished by the end of June 2017, which it later extended to July 2017. Today, the department said work would be over by December 31. “Can you do one thing correctly? Can you set a timeline and stick to it,” the court asked the department.
The court also pulled up municipal corporations for not filing data on the number of safai karamchaaris employed by them. The court had sought the data in May this year. It directed the corporations to submit the information before the next date of hearing on August 16.
Directions were also issued to the Delhi Jal Board to give an action plan addressing the issue of untreated sewage flowing into the Yamuna. During the hearing, the court commissioner appointed by the bench drew its attention to manual scavengers who, without proper equipment, were made to de-silt drains opening into the Kushak drain.
The commissioner and some of the residents of the adjoining areas also informed the bench about the alleged levelling of the land under the entire stretch of the bridge. They alleged the levelling was being permitted to allow encroachments and added that buses were being parked there.
The court commissioner said the debris had not been removed completely as was ordered by the bench on the last date of hearing on July 25. The court had then pulled up the civic bodies for the “dismal” state of the Kushak drain and directed the removal of debris within three days.
The court’s directions came on a PIL initiated by it in 2012 on the issue of water-logging in the South Extension Part II area and in which it had passed orders from time to time to the PWD to clear rubble from the Kushak nullah.