Sewer hole deaths: Minister Anjaneya fumbles for answers

Sewer hole deaths: Minister Anjaneya fumbles for answers

Has no information about Doddaballapur incident, unaware of law

Sewer hole deaths: Minister Anjaneya fumbles for answers

Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya on Monday had a tough time defending himself over the tragic death of four people during cleaning of a sewer hole in Doddaballapur on Sunday.

The minister had neither gathered information about the incident nor was he aware of the various provisions of the law which ban manual scavenging. 

He condemned the incident and started a harangue about the plight of dalits during a press conference to announce a state award.

Four men died of asphyxiation in Doddaballapur town in Bengaluru Rural district while cleaning a clogged, 15-foot-deep  manhole. The contractor who employed the cleaners is absconding. The Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, has banned manual scavenging across the country.

Though the minister admitted that manual scavenging had been banned, he fumbled while replying to a question on who should be held responsible for violating the law. He blamed the contractor who had employed the manual scavengers, saying the contractors forced their employees to enter manholes. 

“It is not possible to use machines in all cases. Hence, the contractors force the cleaners to enter the manhole,” he added.

He avoided answering a question as to who among the ministers should be held responsible for the incident and, instead, said he would take up the matter with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Appropriate directions will be issued to all the urban local bodies to take strict measures to prevent such incidents, he added.

Anjaneya also refused to support a protest being staged by dalits at Holenarasipur in Hassan district over members of the community not being allowed entry into a temple. 

“They (protesters) should not waste time on such protests. There is no point entering a temple where the God does not talk. Instead, they should fight for entering Parliament, state assemblies and local bodies,” he said.

 

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