[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Gujarat High Court has pulled up the state government for the death of a manual scavenger in Prantij town while he entered an underground sewage to clean the gutter and ordered action against the chief municipal officer of the town.
Taking a serious view of the lapse on the part of the state government which had issued a circular three years ago banning the practice of manual scavenging, a division bench of the HC comprising Justice SR Brahmabhatt and VP Patel issued notice to the government to file a reply by October 17 as to what steps it had taken to follow its own decision to ban the practice of manual cleaning of underground gutter.
A manual scavenger, Badarji Kantiji Masar had died after entering a sewage in Prantij town on September 25 last. The deceased hailed from Rajasthan and is survived by wife and four children. According to the petitioner, the police has not yet registered an FIR in this connection. The petitioner has prayed for legal action under Section 304 of the IPC and prevention of atrocities Act aginst the chief municipal officer and the contractor who had employed the victim.
The state government, through a circular issued on December 26, 2016 had banned the practice of using manual scavangers for cleaning underground sewage and if the civic official concerned employed a sanitation worker for doing so and dies as a consequence would be prosecuted under the prevention of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe atrocities act.
The petitioner also cited a Supreme Court order of 2014 abolishing the practice of manual scavenging all over the country with immediate effect.
In June this year, seven persons had died of inhaling poisonous gas after they entered a manhole in Vadodara.