Freedom? Four sewage workers die in manhole in Madhapur, Hyderabad

On 13 th of August 14, 2016,as the country is preparing to celebrate its 70th year of independence, four manual scavengers entered a 25 ft man hole in Ayyappa colony, Madhapur and never came up. The medical cause of their deaths was asphyxiation- due to inhalation of toxic gases. They did not wear any protective wear- when was it made available to them? The ambulance driver who tried to rescue them was somehow saved by medical help.

As usual the blame game continues. They were employed by private contractors who had similar history of negligence in the past in Madhapur for which they were blacklisted by the HMWSSB. The HMWSSB has instituted a high level inquiry and announced an ex gratia of 2.5 lakhs each to kin of the deceased.

dalitsMadhapur is a suburb of Hyderabad. It is noted as a center of information technology activity. The heart of this area is called HITEC City which has the highest concentration of IT/ITES establishments in the city. Real estate is on the rise with big names such as Ramky Estates, Aparna, Aliens, Lanco Infratech and many others constructing skyscrapers, luxury homes, SEZs etc. It boasts of many high rise buildings and many multi national companies-but it does not boast of hitech sewage system.

Bezwada Wilson, the campaigner against manual scavenging has been awarded the prestigious  Magsaysay award this year. He made a fervent appeal to that the “ Government should stop killing us in sewers.” If everything can be made with technology including a rocket, why not mechanise the toilets, was his question for which no one seems to have an answer. His survey revealed that there have been 1073 deaths in manholes in the past 3 years. The Bhim yatra he led last year culminated on April 14th in Delhi, commemorating 125th anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar, demanding freedom from manual scavenging.

The Magsaysay prize was awarded to Wilson “for asserting  the inalienable right to a life of  human dignity.”

For a majority of our people we have been denying this right in favour of our skewed development models.

Comes another Independence day to celebrate what?

– UDAAN

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