Nagpur Municipal Corporation spent Rs 7 crore on machines, but manual cleaning continues | Nagpur News

Former Senior Corporator Abha Pande has alleged that the use of manpower to clean up the sewage system is nothing but a scam by the PHE department which requires an investigation by the civic chief

NAGPUR: Despite hiring four jet machines and paying around Rs7 crore of taxpayers’ money to their operators, Public Health Engineering (PHE) regularly deployed waste management officers during manual scan.
The data obtained from Nagpur Municipal Corporation revealed that the PHE department paid Rs 6,77,55,360 to operators of four jet and suction vehicles in the last financial year (2021-22). The NMC also spent money on the operation and maintenance of 11 vacuum vehicles attached to 10 different areas.
Sources from NMC’s solid waste management said at least 100 sanitation workers are attached to the PHE in the 10 areas and most of them are engaged in manual cleaning. Workers descend into sewer lines without wearing safety kits.
On Friday, TOI reported how a sanitation worker injured himself while manually cleaning a sewer line. “Despite the ban on manual cleaning and the government’s assertion that this practice has ceased, it continues in central, eastern and northern Nagpur,” the sources said.
Manual garbage collectors are banned under the Manual Garbage Picker Prohibition and Rehabilitation Act 2013 (PEMSR). The deployment of any person for the manual cleaning, transportation, disposal or handling in any way of human excreta for disposal is prohibited, sources said.
Former business manager Abha Pande alleged that the use of labor to clean up the sewer system is nothing but a scam by the PHE department which requires an investigation by the civic leader. She pointed out that the blockage of sewer pipes is an ongoing problem in old towns like Maskasath, Itwari etc having many lanes and alleys where even a four-wheeled vehicle cannot enter. Here, the problem of blocked sewer pipes is a major problem. Instead of finding a permanent solution, the department rented machines that cannot enter the old areas,” Pande said.
According to sources, the PHE department headed by Executive Engineer Shweta Banerjee insists on manual cleaning by sanitary workers in these places. Pande said she had opposed manual cleaning in the past and demanded an end to the use of high-tech machines in old areas and an end to high payments to private operators.

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Melissa C. Keyes