Manhole deaths: Bengaluru Development Minister blames it on untrained workers

Bengaluru: Commenting on the deaths of five manual scavengers in two recent incidents in the city, Bengaluru  Development Minister, K J George told the Legislative Council on Thursday that they were mainly caused by apartment owners employing untrained workers for the job.

“The BWSSB has  trained staff for cleaning manholes, but their services are not used by apartment owners because they want to cut costs,” he explained adding that going by  the Supreme Court  guidelines for engaging labourers to clean manholes and septic tanks, they should  remain open for an hour and the gas levels inside checked before they enter them. A face mask was mandatory for the cleaning staff and machinery was necessary to clean the manholes. “Some members of the apartment association  and the owner of the hotel concerned have been arrested following the death of five men on  their premises. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh has been given to the families of  each of the deceased men and the BWSSB has appealed to people to  use its trained staff for cleaning clogged drains,” he said. The Minister, who was replying to the concerns of Ms Tara Anuradha of the BJP on the subject, revealed that following the widening of its roads in recent years, around 1.5 lakh manholes that were on their sides, had moved to 
their centre, forcing the government to shift them back in phases. 

“With the  manholes protruding above the roads in several areas,  the underground drainage lines that had moved to their centre, have been re-located on the TenderSure roads by the BBMP and the BMRCL too has carried out the exercise on  several other roads. The BWSSB itself has shifted 7115 manholes in 2014-15, 10,090 in 2015-16 and 16,900 in 2016-17. Others are being relocated in a phased manner,” he assured.

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