Death of a Sewage Worker
The PUCL had written to the then Secretary General of the National Human Rights Commission. On February 2, 1998 attracting his attention to the deplorable condition under which the sewage workers employed by the local bodies worked. Dr. Y. P. Chhibbar, the General Secretary of the PUCL had drawn the attention of the NHRC to a writ petition that the Mumbai branch of the PUCL moved in the High Court. The High Court had directed the implementation of the recommendations of the Occupational Health and Safety Centre.
The NHRC, on the receipt of this letter had issued a notice to the Ministry of Welfare Government of India and the Chief Secretary, the Government of NCT, Delhi to respond to the letter of the PUCL. The General Secretary had also sent such a letter to the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis in September 19, 1997 from when there was no response.
Recently two Municipal Safai Karmacharis died while engaged in the work of cleaning the sewers in Narela, Delhi. The NHRC has again issued notices to the Union Government, the Delhi Government, the MCD, and the Delhi Jal Board. Lamenting the fact, "That no one in the Ministry has cared even to appreciate what is expected by the NHRC from the Government of India much less a sensitivity needed in dealing with this issue relating to human dignity'.
This is a burning example of the toothlessness of the NHRC and the scant regard with which it is treated by the Government.
-- General Secretary
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(PUCL Bulletin, August 2000)