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Kolkata’s Sewers Will No Longer Be Cleaned by Teenage Boys. Here’s Why

The sorry sight of teenagers covered in dirt while cleaning sewers will be a thing of the past. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has decided to use machines to clean the city's sewers instead.

In a refreshing change, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation will stop employing young boys to clean out the city’s sewerage system.

After a diktat from the Union government, the Corporation’s Sewerage and Drainage department has decided to give up the system of hiring teenagers as ‘gully pit boys’  to remove silt from the sewers.

Now, the civic body will use machines to clean the sewers.

The system of using teenage boys to clean the sewers is several decades old. Back then, it was only possible to unclog sewers with human hands.

According to reports, at least six gully pit boys have died inside the sewers in the past eight years.


Representational image. Photo source: Flickr/Sharada Prasad CS

The Centre had, a couple of years ago,  made it mandatory for civic bodies to start using gully pit machines. However, due to the high cost of a machine, the idea of ending manual cleaning took a backseat.

“We had no option 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 mechanised desilting, we need enough funds,” said a KMC sewerage and drainage department official to the Times of India.

To make matters worse, some of the gully pit boys also started protesting against the inhuman practice.

Officials at the Corporation have realised that time is running out. They have decided to buy 10 gully pit emptier machines in the next three months. The Corporation will also buy sophisticated water jetting and suction machines to deal with waterlogging.

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