New Delhi: The National Scheduled Caste Commission (NCSC) on Saturday requested Delhi Police to register an FIR against Aam Aadmi Party Uttam Nagar MP Naresh Balyan for manual scan in his constituency allegedly on his instructions.
NCSC chairman Vijay Sampla said in a statement that Balyan had shared four photographs showing the cleaning of drains and sewers as part of the preparation for the monsoon. “In the attached photos, it is clear that the cleaning of the drains was carried out by manual sweeping. In accordance with government rules, sewers and drains must be cleaned with electro-hydraulic machines,” the statement said.
In one of the images, a few undressed workers without safety equipment can be seen standing near a manhole. Sampla replied on the microblogging site: “Politicians should not abuse the SC community. They should remember that manual sweeping and cleaning of sewage/pipes is a prohibited practice. Delhi Police are to register an FIR against him, investigate the matter and submit the report on immediate action taken to NCSC.
When contacted, Balyan, who is also a member of the Delhi Jal Board, said the cleaning of the manhole was done mechanically and the workers only transported the excavated debris to a vehicle. “I am aware that manual cleaning is prohibited. The cleaning was done mechanically. The workers did not enter the manhole. They only transported materials and bricks extracted from the manhole to a truck,” Balyan insisted. While adding that he had not yet received any notices from the NCSC or the Delhi Police, he said: “I will respond to such notices accordingly.”
A DJB official said: ‘For some years the council has been using lorries fitted with cleaning machines to clean drains and manholes. We also provided waste pickers with 200 small cleaning machines to help them become entrepreneurs.
A Delhi government spokesman added that the workers were only transporting silt in the trucks for disposal. “The silt in the storm drains is not sewage, just mud, bricks, rocks and sand,” the spokesperson said.
Bezwada Wilson, National Manager, Safai Karamchari Aandolan, debunked these claims and said he saw workers manually cleaning a DJB line just 3-4 days ago. “Our agencies do not have machines to completely clean all drains and sewer lines. Human intervention is still necessary. We need the government to take a bit more time, but look at the problem comprehensively, prepare an action plan and allocate funds for a comprehensive solution to the problem,” Wilson said.
An MCD official admitted that manual cleaning was necessary to clear deep drains inaccessible to machines. “But we have a limited number of these drains. And the workers don’t have to go into the drain, we clean them using bells,” the manager said. Whenever workers have had to enter the sewers, “all necessary precautions are taken,” another official added.