However, on Sunday we were told by our supervisor to get into the drainage and clean the sewage which was quite deep.”
TIRUVARUR: Appalling visuals of three sanitation workers descending into underground drainage pits — without proper safety gears or machines — surfaced recently on social media, drawing condemnation from all corners.
When inquired, the group of sanitation workers who were allegedly engaged in manual scavenging said they were, on Sunday, forced into clearing the block in the underground drainage system on the second street in Mannargudi municipality, in violation of provisions under the Manual Scavengers Act.
One of the workers told TNIE, “We used get down into the drainage when it was dry to clean the soil deposited or when sewage was only knee deep. However, on Sunday we were told by our supervisor to get into the drainage and clean the sewage which was quite deep.”
The worker added that they were not provided the machinery needed.
“When we demanded equipment like compressor, the supervisor told us that they were not working and asked us to work with a rod. When we protested, the supervisor threatened us that we will lose our job as we are temporary workers,”the worker said.
When contacted, V Narayanan, Mannargudi municipality commissioner, said the three workers were outsourced and not municipal employees. “However, they were told not to get into the drainage,” he said.
When TNIE pointed out that they were forced into manual scavenging, he said an inquiry has been ordered, and action will be taken based on it.
Meanwhile, T Murugaiyan, district secretary of CITU, condemned the incident and urged the state government and the district administration to take action against the officials who were responsible for the incident.