At a public hearing on Constitution Day on Tuesday, a group of human rights lawyers in Shivpuri placed on the District Collector’s table jars containing human excreta and sewage samples in protest against “inaction” over repeated complaints of manual scavenging in the district. They demanded punishment for officials and protective gear for sewer cleaners.The practice of manual scavenging, they claimed, continued unabated at three locations in the city — behind Vidyadevi Hospital, near Jal Mandir and behind PWD quarters. “The safai karamcharis are engaged in removing human excreta which flows from homes and into open drains by the side of the road,” read a memorandum submitted to the District Collector.Report not submittedDuring a visit to the district on September 19, the State Human Rights Commission had asked the Collector to submit a report within 15 days on manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning of sewers. The report hasn’t been submitted yet.“On Samvidhan Diwas (Constitution Day) and in the light of the spirit of the Constitution and the rights it provides to the most marginalised”, the lawyers demanded an FIR against officials responsible, identification of manual scavengers, survey of insanitary latrines and distribution of safety equipment to sewer cleaners within a fortnight.Heeding the demands at the meeting, H.P. Verma, CEO, zila panchayat, directed the Municipal Council and the Public Health Engineering Department to act within 15 days to put an end to the practice in the district and provide protective gear to sewer cleaners.“The workers are not cleaning drains with bare hands but using equipment,” District Collector Anugraha P. told The Hindu. “In any case, they are not removing excreta but cleaning drains. There needs to be a behavioural change to end this practice, which may take time,” she said.During a visit to Shivpuri last month, The Hindu had found a worker behind the PWD quarters removing human excreta using a shovel in an open drain. All sanitation workers in the city belong to the Mehtar community. While 15 men are tasked with clearing drains clogged with human excreta, carcasses and polythene bags, 35-40 women spruce up the streets.“It’s not about provision of equipment to manual scavengers. It’s about ending the practice by closing open drains and creating septic tanks, and rehabilitating the workers,” said Abhay Jain, one of the lawyers.
Sri Lanka are flying in veteran left arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas and young off spinner Suraj Randiv as cover for the injured Angelo Mathews and Muttiah Muralitharan in their squad for the World Cup final against India in Mumbai on April 2.”They picked up a couple of niggles in the last match (semifinal against New Zealand on March 29 in Colombo). So to be on the safe side a couple of guys are flying in tonight. We will be giving those two guys (Mathews and Muralitharan) as long as possible to prove their fitness,” said Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss at a media conference on Thursday. Asked what was wrong with Mathews, Bayliss said “quadriceps muscle (injury).” Muralitharan has been struggling with a knee injury that he sustained in Mumbai against New Zealand in their last league game on March 18 as well as a hamstring problem but Bayliss is confident the world’s highest Test wicket-taker will play his final game before calling it a day from international cricket. “I think his chances are good. He bowled his 10 overs in the semi-final and came through that OK. He is obviously a bit stiff and sore. He has the character and the will to win the World Cup and I will not be surprised if he plays,” the Australian-born coach said. Both Vaas and Randiv are not part of the 15-member Sri Lanka Cup squad and all replacements due to injuries in the squad have to be approved by the International Cricket Council. The 37-year-old Vaas played in his last and 322nd ODI in August, 2008 against India at Colombo. The wily left arm bowler has taken 400 wickets while the 26-year-old Randiv has played 21 ODIs and grabbed 22 wickets. – With inputs from PTIadvertisement
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