the Gujarat High Court division bench comprising Justice K R Vyas and Justice Akshay Mehta came up with comprehensive guidelines for manhole workers on June 27, 2006. This was in response to two petitions filed, following the death of 12 manhole workers in the state in 2005.
The petitions brought to light the fact that thousands of workers work in inhuman conditions with no safeguards. Besides, workers are exposed to hazardous substances, leading to several ailments. Even the basic facilities and equipments for drainage cleaning operations are denied to them.
The Court, in its order, has laid down guidelines for cleaning operations. The guidelines are as follows:
Unless absolutely necessary, civic bodies in the state will not employ human agency to carry out cleaning operations
State government and Safai Kamdar Vikas Nigam to supply necessary equipments for cleaning operations
Before entering a manhole, inspection against poisonous gases is a must
If there is a possibility of accident, workers should not be allowed into manholes. If they are still forced, such orders should be given in writing. The official concerned will then be liable for any untoward incident
Sampling of water and gas by the officer-in-charge mandatory
Training on health and safety to be imparted to workers. Training sessions to be held regularly
Periodical medical check-ups of workers mandatory
Civic bodies to provide basic facilities and amenities to workers
Civic bodies to insure workers and pay their premiums. Workers should avail of various schemes of social welfare department
Civic bodies to discontinue the practice of engaging contractors.
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