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TN: Controversy erupts as on alleged MLA order sanitation worker cleans sewer line with bare hands
Chennai: A controversy has erupted in R.K Nagar, Chennai where a sanitation worker was allegedly seen cleaning a blocked underground sewer line with his bare hands after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA J.J.Ebenezer asked him to do it.
The incident dates back to January 2 when the DMK leader allegedly ordered a sanitation worker to immediately clear a blocked underground sewer line as people had complained about it during their interaction with their MLA at the 'Ungalai Thedi MLA' (MLA at your doorstep) campaign launched to hear the people's grievances. The MLA has defended himself on the issue saying that the said drain was not a sewer line and also pointed out that he never gave the order he is being accused of.
Following the order of the MLA, the worker cleaned the blocked underground sewer line with his bare hands. A video of the same has also gone viral over the Internet, which has been strongly criticised and condemned by various Opposition leaders and Dalit activists.
One of the Dalit activists and writer Shalin Maria Lawrence took to Twitter and said that "action should be taken on the MLA".
"Today DMK MLA from RK nagar constituency in #Chennai has forced a corporation sanitation worker to clean a sewer with his bare hand .This is atrocious to the core! This is a crime under Prevention of manual scavenging act and SC/ST POA. Does this government have a conscious?!" she said in a series of tweets.
She further said that the incident was not new, but has been recorded on camera for the first time. "This is not new or a one-of-a-kind incident. This is the first time it has been recorded on video. Most sanitation workers across Tamilnadu use their bare hands to clean sewers. Also, manual scavenging deaths in Tamilnadu are highest in the country. The state does not care," she tweeted.
Terming the incident, a "state failure", the Dalit activist tagged National Convener of Safai Karmachari Andolan Bezwada Wilson and further wrote that all 234 constituencies in the state face same issue and all the MLAs are aware of this.
"They do not use prevention of manual scavenging act 2013," she added.
In another tweet on Tuesday, she said, "Today DMK MLA from RK Nagar constituency in #Chennai has forced a corporation sanitation worker to clean a sewer with his bare hand. This is atrocious to the core! This is a crime under Prevention of manual scavenging act and SC/ST POA. Does this government have a conscious?!"
Reacting to this, MLA Ebenezer tweeted: "This is unfair. If you don't remove the word "MLA forced a corporation sanitation worker " I will complaint regarding this. I have full footage. I even didn't not talked with that worker. First of all that is not a drainage, it's a drinking water clogging."
Notably, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) interim general secretary and Leader of Opposition Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) also slammed the DMK MLA and urged that J.J.Ebenezer should be booked under relevant sections of law.
"Chennai R.K. On 3.1.2023, DMK Assembly member of Nagar Constituency asked a municipal sanitation worker to clean the sewage drain blockage with his own hands. Acting as a member of the ruling party legislature I urge this Vidya government to take action against the DMK legislator as per relevant sections of the law," EPS's tweets read in his regional language.
Meanwhile, former minister S P Velumani also said that the AIADMK government has introduced robotic machines to clear the sewage block. Still, even now sanitation workers clean the sewer lines with bare hands. "The ruling party MLA has acted in such a way as to endanger his health by asking him to clean it. I urge the Tamil Nadu government to take appropriate action against him and to take action against such incidents from now on," he tweeted.
Following the condemnation from the Opposition, Ebenezer took to his Twitter and said that some people are sharing just a part of the video because the campaign has garnered a good response from the people.
In a series of tweets, he said: "Few are spreading lies by cutting and pasting a bit of Videos because the 'MLA at your doorstep' campaign started by me got a good response from people. Those are just false campaigns." (ANI)