CHENNAI: RK Nagar DMK legislator JJ Ebenezer on Wednesday drew criticism from netizens after a video showed a Metrowater worker removing sludge from a clogged pipe during his inspection.
As part of the 'Ungalai Thedi MLA' (MLA at your doorstep) programme, Ebenezer had gone to investigate civic affairs in his area a few days ago. During one of these jobs, he was inspecting a hand pump that was damaged because the pipes underneath were blocked when a Metrowater worker removed the sludge with his bare hands.
TOI has accessed original pictures showing the worker cleaning the mud in the presence of the MLA. While there was no evidence that the MLA ordered the worker to do this, he did not stop it either.
Ebenezer later told TOI that he spoke to officials and did not notice the person placing his bare hands on the pipe. “I didn’t see it because it happened in a split second. If I had known, I would have stopped it,” he said. As the video went viral, netizens condemned the MLA for neither stopping the act nor apologizing for it.
Shalin Maria Lawrence, a Twitter user, posted a video with the caption that the act was cruel. “This is neither new nor a one-off incident. This is the first time it has been recorded on video. Most sanitation workers across Tamil Nadu clean sewers with bare hands,” she tweeted. Others asked the police to book the MLA.
Arapor Iyakkam, an anti-corruption NGO, tweeted that it was wrong to supervise a worker manually cleaning mud with his bare hands. “Provide safety equipment for workers,” it tweeted, tagging the MLA.