KMC won’t hire boys to clean Kolkata’s sewers

KMC-won't-hire-boys-to-clean-Kolkata's-sewersRepresentational Picture

Kolkata Municipal Corporation KMC has finally decided not to hire teenage boys aged between 16-20 years as ‘gully pit boys’ to clean up Kolkata’s sewers, instead the civic body has planned to use machines.

For many decades teenage boys are only used to clean the sewers, as then it was possible to clear sewers with human hands only.  Even many big cities around the world had moved to automation cleaning, every summer Kolkata continued to hire young boys as they would be thin enough to pass through manholes and limber enough to manoeuvre in the cramped tunnels. Reports say in the past eight years at least six gully pit boys have died inside the sewers. Also, most of the gully pit boys who joined service in their teens had crossed their 30’s and were unable to lift silt as they would do at an early age.

A section of gully pit boys revolted against the ‘inhuman’ practice. And after getting a diktat from the Centre, the KMC sewerage and drainage department has decided not to hire gully pit boys for cleaning city’s sewerage system any longer.

KMC sewerage and drainage department officials stickled to the decades old method of cleaning sewers manually as the cost of desilting process under the mechanized system was much higher than the manual system.

An official of KMC sewerage and drainage department said, “We had no options but to continue with the old system as a gully pit emptier machine costs around Rs 50 lakh. If we want to bring the entire city under the mechanized desilting process, we need sufficient funds for this”.

Now, the KMC sewerage department has decided to upgrade to the new system in a major way. The civic body will buy 10 such machines in the next three months before arrival of monsoon. Besides, the civic body will buy other sophisticated machines (jetting cum suction) to combat waterlogging.

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