Cleaning of sewers, septic tanks by untrained staff not allowed: ULB directorate

The Directorate of Local Bodies has written to all municipal commissioners, managing directors of Jalkal and Jal Sansthan and senior officials to ensure availability and use of state-of-the-art equipment and necessary protective gear during the hazardous cleaning process of sewers and septic tanks by sanitation workers in the state.

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“Untrained sanitation workers are not allowed to clean sewers and septic tanks,” said Dr. Nitin Bansal, the director of the Urban Local Bodies Directorate, in his letter written following the Supreme Court's October 20 safety orders by workers involved in cleaning sewers and septic tanks. The orders included the award of compensation in the amount of 30 lakh in case of death in an accident, in addition to the ban on manual cleaning.

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Bansal has accordingly issued instructions to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) during the cleanliness exercise.

As per the SOPs issued in the past, no one is allowed to enter the sewer for cleaning.

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“Therefore, entering the sewer system without appropriate safety measures for cleaning is prohibited. Regular cleaning and maintenance of septic tanks and sewers should be ensured through maximum mechanization, prescribed rules and standard operating procedures and safety equipment. “Conducting unsafe cleaning is a criminal offence,” the SOPs state.

Awareness exercises on cleaning sewer lines, septic tanks and pits are conducted from time to time in all local authorities.

In addition, supervisors must be on site with appropriate machinery and safety equipment.

Sewer cleaning should be carried out when the minimum amount of wastewater is present in the sewer.

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