Skip to main content

Three years on, Gujarat govt "fails" to implement Supreme Court order to compensate 146 manhole deaths

A manhole worker in Ahmedabad, March 22
By Our Representative
In what is being interpreted as a clear violation of the Supreme Court order, the Gujarat government has not begun implementation of the three-year-old apex court order, dated March 27, 2014, requiring payment of Rs 10 lakh compensation to each of the manual scavengers who died cleaning up gutters across the state since 1993.
The order also required all state governments to provide insurance cover worth Rs 10 lakh to all manhole workers, which too remains unimplemented.
Manav Garima Trust, one of Gujarat’s premier civil rights organization fighting for justice to manhole workers, has estimated that between 1993 and till date as many as 146 persons have due to asphyxiation in gutters. Only one person, from Savarkundla, has been paid the compensation so far – that too on March 2, 2017, following the death of a manhole worker a day earlier.
Trust’s director Parsottam Vaghela told Counterview, “On March 16, 2017, we handed over the list of those who should be paid the compensation, as despite the lapse of four years of the apex court judgment, there is no movement in compensating the deaths.”
Vaghela said, “To our utter surprise, we found that the Gujarat government has not even prepared the list of those who have died. We hope, now that we have handed over the list, along with all the details, the state government will act.”
Pointing out that this is not for the first time he has handed over the list, Vaghela revealed, “We have also prepared a separate list of 32 manhole workers, who died on work following the Supreme Court order. I handed over both the lists to Punamchand Parmar, principal secretary, urban development department.”
A scan through official documents suggests how indifferent the state government has been towards the plight of manhole workers. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, and the model rules made to implement it, ban manhole workers’ entry into gutters and septic tanks without proper security equipment.
As the state governments, including that of Gujarat, did not act, and manhole workers continued to die due to asphyxiation, civil society organizations approached the apex court, which ruled a year later to compensate for the death of manhole workers since 1993 across India.
The apex court also ruled to provide an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh free of cost to each of the manhole workers, whether working with urban or rural local bodies or with private contractors.
While Gujarat’s panchayat and rural development department came up with a GR on June 21, 2014, the state urban development department followed suit two-and-a-half years later, on December 16, 2016, only after the Manav Garima Trust filed public interest litigation in the matter in the Gujarat High Court to begin implementing of the Supreme Court order.
To suggest that the state government is “acting”, the social justice and empowerment department came up with a separate GR four days later, on December 20, 2016, declaring that it is the responsibility of the panchayat department for rural areas and urban development department for urban areas for ensuring implementation of the apex court order, as also the 2013 Act banning manual scavenging.
“All these GRs have remained on paper, only to show that the state government intends to comply by the legal requirement”, Vaghela says, adding, “The state government has not just not paid the Rs 10 lakh compensation; it has not even provided insurance cover of Rs 10 to each of the manhole workers.”

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.