Cities must adopt mechanised cleaning of sewers: Centre

'Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge' to encourage mechanised cleaning of sewers: Centre

The challenge aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning'

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Credit: PTI Photo

To encourage urban local bodies to adopt mechanised cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched 'Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge' on Thursday.

Launching the challenge, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that in the interest of greater public hygiene, the Centre was committed to ensuring that no person needs to enter a sewer or septic tank, unless unavoidable.

The challenge aims to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning'.

The virtual event saw chief secretaries, state mission directors and other senior state and Union Territory and city officials coming together to take a pledge on behalf of 243 cities to mechanise all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by April 30, 2021.

Explaining the contours of the challenge, Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, said: “The challenge will focus extensively on creating citizen awareness on this critical issue. Along with this, a dedicated helpline number has been set up to register complaints and provide real-time solutions on desludging or sewer overflow."

The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and the results will be declared on August 15, 2021.

Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories: with a population of more than 10 lakh, 3-10 lakh and up to 3 lakh, with a total prize amount of Rs 52 crore to be given to winning cities across all categories, he said.