Get down into sewerage pits, HC tells drainage board chiefs

Experience the plight of manual scavengers

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday gave a dressing down to the chairpersons of Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board on their failure to implement its orders to prevent manual scavenging in the State.

“Let the officials and chairmen get down into the sewerage pits and experience the plight themselves. We will forget contempt proceedings against them,” Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen remarked during the hearing of petition by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

Unconvinced by the reasons furnished for the delay in acting on its order, the Court observed that its orders had not been taken seriously. It directed the chairpersons of both the boards to appear before it and explain the delay in acting on its orders.

PUCL had moved the Court seeking enforcement of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. Counsel for the petitioner, Dr Ravi Varma Kumar submitted that though the practice was banned in the State way back in 1973, not much had been done to enforce the prohibition. The counsel said the government had not acted on its promise to purchase machines for desilting and cleaning manholes.

The reply by the KUWSSB counsel that machines had been provided in Bellary, met with a sharp reply from the Court.

“Why only there? Are the funds going down the drains there? We know minerals are going down the drain in Bellary. May be that’s why officers are also going down the drains there,” the Bench observed.

Government counsel Basavaraj Kareddy submitted that of the 213 urban local bodies in the State, 81 have procured sucking and jetting machines. He said another 48 machines would be purchased by June 2012.

Advance bail rejected

The High Court has refused anticipatory bail to five BBMP officials -  C A  Shivappa, B G Prakash Kumar, Heera Naik, Ramesh and M Prabhu - all booked by Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) in the multi-crore fake bills scam. All of them had approached the High Court after a lower court rejected the advance bail pleas of 13 Palike officials.

The BMTF had registered a first information report in connection with the irregularities alleged to have been committed in Gandhinagar, Rajarajeshwari and Malleswaram divisions of the BBMP.

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