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(Photo: Mint)
(Photo: Mint)

Delhi HC seeks details of steps taken to ensure safety of sanitation workers

The court said the affidavits did not disclose the 'the number of safai karamcharis in their jurisdiction visa-vis the number of masks, gloves and other PPE kits that are provided to them'

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday directed Delhi government and municipal corporations to file additional affidavits on measures taken by them to secure safety of sanitation workers during Covid-19 pandemic.

“The affidavits of the civic authorities are devoid of material particulars and do not throw any light on the number of safai karamcharis in their jurisdiction vis- a-vis the number of masks, gloves and other PPE kits that are provided to them on a day to day basis," the order reads.

“Nor do the affidavits of any of the aforesaid Bodies indicate the number of Containment zones declared in their jurisdiction for this Court to understand as to whether the requirements of the safai karamcharis in those areas which are more critical, have been adequately met or not," the order further states.

The bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramanium Prasad also asked Delhi government and Municipal Corporations to inform the court whether sanitizing cubicles have been installed by the civic authorities in each ward and if not, what steps have been taken to ensure that after the safai karamcharis complete their duty for the day, they are adequately sanitised.

The court further said that the issue of disposal of bio-medical waste by the civic authorities that has been highlighted by the petitioners, also needs to be addressed.

It added that it is a critical area considering the submission made by the counsel for the petitioners in the case that bio-medical waste is being dumped at common dumping grounds, which can itself be a breeding ground of Covid-19 infection if any person unknowingly comes in contact with infected PPE kits as also gloves, masks etc.

“This is particularly a matter of concern as scavengers will be the first ones to be exposed to infection," the court said.

The court made these observations on pleas seeking directions to the municipal corporations and the AAP government to provide masks, protection kits and hazmat suits to its sanitation workers.

The plea by social worker Harnam Singh had sought direction to the authorities to carry out testing of all sanitation workers and their immediate families for Covid-19.

Another plea by All Municipal Corporation Staff Union, had contended that sanitation workers and rag pickers are at risk of coronavirus infection from handling unmarked medical waste emerging from homes where COVID-19 patients are quarantined and therefore, they need to be provided proper protection gear.

The plea had also sought that the workers be also instructed on disposal of their masks and gloves and that sanitization cubicles be put up in each ward for the workers to sanitize themselves before going to their respective homes.

The court will next hear the matter on 9 June.

PTI contributed to this story

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