Terming ‘Swacch Bharat’ a “hollow slogan” Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “blind” to the plight of manual scavengers. Gandhi made the remark over the death of a sanitation worker in Delhi due to suffocation after falling in a sewer. Anil, a sanitation worker suffocated to death after allegedly falling in the sewer of a building which he had entered to clean in Dwarka’s Dabri area last week. The incident had come a week after five people died due to asphyxiation when they entered a sewage treatment plant in Moti Nagar area here.
“Anil’s tragic death in the sewers of Delhi & photographs of his grieving son have made headlines worldwide. Our PM’s “Swacch Bharat” is a hollow slogan, when he’s blind to the plight of thousands of manual scavengers forced to excavate toilets & sewer lines in inhuman conditions (sic),” Gandhi tweeted.
Congress’ Scheduled Caste department Chairperson Nitin Raut expressed his condolences over the death of the sewerage cleaning workers and said the UPA government had passed the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill 2012, but the NDA dispensation “failed” to implement it. In a statement, he said this was not the only incident as in the past too such incidents have been reported across states where workers lost their life due to the “government’s lack of support” towards their safety and welfare.
Raut demanded a government job and Rs 50 lakh compensation for the kin of the deceased and Rs 25 lakh ex gratia for people who suffer injuries in such incidents. Urging the government to take care of education, health expenses of all sewer workers and ensure their mandatory health check up and insurance cover, he also called for a disaster cell for immediate response to any such incidents. Raut said if these demands were not considered, the AICC’s SC cell will raise these issues with the public.