Sewer deaths: Centre calls for quick response units

  1. The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has asked all States and Union Territories to set up emergency response sanitation units (ERSU).
  2. The ERSUs are to set up in capital cities of each State/UT and in all major cities having a municipal corporation and/or water and sewerage board with population of more than one lakh.
  3. The ERSUs would include trained cleaners wearing protective gear. The district Magistrate or municipal commissioner would be designated as the Responsible Sanitation Authority, which would organise the staff for the ERSU.
  4. Those trained, equipped and certified as sewer entry professionals would be the only ones allowed to enter sewers and septic tanks.
  5. The decision to set up ERSUs comes in the backdrop of recent incidents of workers dying while cleaning sewers and septic tanks as private individuals, local bodies and contractors force people to enter sewers and tanks.
  6. Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 prohibit employment as manual scavengers. It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.