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Plea In SC Seeks Protective Gear To Sanitation Workers And COVID Test On Workers and their Immediate Family [Read Petition]

first_imgTop StoriesPlea In SC Seeks Protective Gear To Sanitation Workers And COVID Test On Workers and their Immediate Family [Read Petition] Radhika Roy9 April 2020 5:25 AMShare This – xA Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India, seeking directions to States, their municipal authorities and local self-government authorities to ensure protection of the right to life of safai karamcharis/sanitation workers who are essential service providers in wake of the national lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The plea seeks for the provision of protective gear…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginA Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India, seeking directions to States, their municipal authorities and local self-government authorities to ensure protection of the right to life of safai karamcharis/sanitation workers who are essential service providers in wake of the national lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The plea seeks for the provision of protective gear to the sanitation workers within a period of 24 hours, and for the testing of the workers and their immediate family within a period of 48 hours. The Petition, filed by Advocate Mehmood Pracha on behalf of social activist and former chairman of Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Harnam Singh, states that there are certain exceptions to the national lockdown which was imposed due to the Coronavirus outbreak; sanitation workers have been exempted from closure of services due to its “essential” nature. The plea refers to a Technical Brief and an Internal Guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which had stated that sanitation workers have to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes protective outerwear, gloves, boots, goggles or a face shield, and a mask while carrying on their duties. It is submitted in the petition that: “…the Safai Karamcharis/Sanitation Workers carry out the essential service of keeping every city, town and village clean, sweep the roads, carry waste of every household, clean sewers etc. In order to carry out said work, these Safai Karamcharis/Sanitation Workers are not equipped with any COVID-19 protective gear/Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to safeguard them from the highly infectious Coronavirus”. It is further submitted that these workers are poorly paid and live in densely populated clusters. Therefore, any worker contracting the infection could lead to the spread of the same in these clusters. The fact that they are highly vulnerable and susceptible to the virus has also been highlighted in the WHO Technical Brief. With a positive cases arising amongst sanitation workers in Dharavi, Mumbai, the petition asserts that “it is imperative that urgent steps are taken to ensure that Safai Karamcharis/sanitation workers are provided with PPE/COVID-19 protective gear on an urgent basis to prevent the pandemic through community transmission”. The plea goes on to underscore the issue of the vilification of the entire community of Scheduled Castes persons, an issue which is already prevalent in the country, and the possibility of the community being blamed as “deliberate spreaders of the Virus”. “…Hence, it is of utmost importance that all local authorities in each State are directed not to force the Safai Karamcharis/Sanitation workers to carry out their duties without being provided with COVID-19 gear/PPE and to ensure that all Safai Karamcharis are provided with COVID-19 protective gear/PPE on an urgent basis”. Further, a combined reading of Sections 2(1)(d), 7 and 9 of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, makes it clear that cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective gear amounts to “hazardous cleaning” and any agency or authority who has employed any person for such hazardous cleaning is liable to be punished with imprisonment and fine which may extend to Rs. 2 lakhs on the first contravention. Therefore, the prayer sought for in the plea is for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus directing the Respondents to instruct all agencies undertaking sanitation facilities to not have any sanitation workers carry out cleaning activity without being provided the appropriate protective gear and to ensure the provision of the same within 24 hours. The plea also seeks for the testing of the sanitation workers and their immediate families to be carried out within 48 hours.Click Here To Download Petition[Read Petition] Next Storylast_img read more

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