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L-G can’t enjoy power without accountability: AAP after Delhi HC order on sewer deaths

After the Delhi High Court took cognizance of the death of two people during cleaning of a sewer in the city, the AAP targeted Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena, saying the DDA which comes under him is responsible for the tragic incident. The Delhi LG cannot “enjoy power without accountability”, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said in a statement on Monday, reacting to the court’s order.

There was no immediate reaction either from the LG Office or the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to the AAP’s charge. A sweeper and a security guard died on September 9 in Outer Delhi’s Mundka area after they inhaled toxic gases inside a sewer they had gone down to clean, police had said. Taking suo motu cognizance of the incident, a high court bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed registering a public interest litigation and issued notice to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi government and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in the matter on the basis of a news report dated September 11.

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The court also appointed senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao as the amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist it.”I thank Delhi High Court’s Chief Justice Satish Sharma for taking suo motu cognisance of the case and asking how the incident happened when manual scavenging is banned in Delhi,” Bharadwaj, who is also the DJB vice president, said.

“The DDA, which comes directly under the LG, is responsible for these two deaths… The LG can not enjoy power without accountability,” he added.Bharadwaj claimed it’s clear that “the department in question” was evading the issue and not owning up to its “grave crime” as in this case, right from the sewer line and its sewerage to the pumping station, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had complete control over the operations.

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The DJB vice president said he took cognizance of the incident and sought a report from his office soon after he read about it in the newspapers.”We waited for the LG Office to step up and accept their responsibility but the dead silence that they maintained, besides the evasiveness of the BJP leaders, is shameful,” he said, targeting Saxena.

The AAP leader also alleged that the LG Office went on “extreme lengths” to misguide the high court as well in the matter.”The central government’s lawyer did not submit in the court that DDA is at fault, instead got the court to issue notices to the Delhi government, MCD and Delhi Jal Board,” he said.

The Delhi government’s lawyers will “certainly” submit “a complete report” to the court but the Delhi LG must understand that power always comes with accountability, Bharadwaj said, adding “LG can’t run away like this”. “Why did not LG meet the victims’ families, offer his regret or condolence? Why did not the LG chart out the corrective measures taken in DDA to avoid such an incident again?,” he asked. “This system can not work with a power-corrupted head without any accountability,” he added.

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