PDO suspended in manual scavenging case

PDO suspended in manual scavenging case

The state government on Thursday suspended a Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) who reportedly forced two municipal workers to enter a manhole in Mysuru district.

Quoting a preliminary enquiry, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil admitted in the Assembly that the incident had occurred in Chamundi Hills panchayat limits in Mysuru district on Tuesday.

The enquiry revealed that PDO Anand, along with Chamundi Hills Gram Panchayat president Geetha, forced two municipal workers — Chaluva and Ganesh — to enter and clean a blocked manhole in front of Geetha’s residence.

An FIR has been filed (No 164/2017) against Anand and Geetha at Krishnaraja Police Station. Patil said action will be initiated against Geetha as per Section 43(A) (removal of members for misconduct) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Rules.

He was replying to a matter raised in this regard by the BJP. Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar said the manual scavenging case in the home district of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is unpardonable. The government must punish officials responsible for such an inhuman act.

Patil said Geetha had called Anand and complained about the blocked manhole. Anand told her that it was the duty of municipal workers to clean manholes and that they were appointed for that purpose. The media soon broke the story along with a video showing the two workers entering the manhole.

Manual scavenging has been banned and forcing municipal workers to clean manholes is a crime under Section 8 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the minister said.

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