Swachta Diwas: An Ode to the unsung heroes dying in sewers

New Delhi, Oct 2: Today is the third year of the Swach Bharat Abhiyan and the nation has certainly joined hands in making this campaign successful, at least it appears so, not when you walk on the road, but when you read the newspapers.  Be it the common man or a celebrity, who certainly find this as a fabulous 'pic op' the campaign has managed to make headlines throughout the year and especially during Gandhi Jayanti. 

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a national level campaign run by the Indian Government to cover all the backward statutory towns to make them clean. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “A clean India would be the best tribute India could pay to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150 birth anniversary in 2019,” said Shri Narendra Modi as he launched the Swachh Bharat Mission at Rajpath in New Delhi three years back. But let's be honest: Has it changed anything for the downtrodden, and if we may use the term used by Mulk Raj Anand the'Underogs'? These unsung heroes, who are at th core of the campaign continue to wither in wilderness. They continue to lose their lives to choking sewers, cleaning them,to infection, to bad health an poverty. How can one miss the glaring headlines staring on your face in the dailies: -A 45-year-old sanitation worker died and three others were taken ill allegedly while cleaning a sewer at the government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in central Delhi.

-In three separate incidents over a month, nine people died in similar circumstances. There seems to be a dim, very dim light at the end of the tunnel. After ten deaths, authorities in Delhi have decided to fully mechanise cleaning sewers and made it clear that any violation would attract punishment up to life imprisonment. The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and top officials of all concerned agencies, including civic bodies and the DJB.

“Directions issued for 100% migration to mechanisation for sewers/drains cleaning. Strict regime to be prepared within seven days. Intensive publicity of laid down norms for observance by contractors. Police to take stringent action against defaulters,” the LG said in a series of tweets.

The LG described deaths caused while cleaning sewers as “unacceptable”.

News24Bureau (Pic Courtesy BBC)