New Delhi: To eradicate manual scavenging in the national capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announced a new scheme for free of cost septic tanks cleaning here, directly beneficial for the unauthorised colonies.

Speaking to the media, Kejriwal said for the 'Mukhyamantri Septic Tank Safai Yojana', Delhi government will provide a phone number where people can call and ask for an appointment.

The Delhi Jal Board will deploy trucks and trained staff for the cleaning of septic tanks across Delhi.

"A truck will come to their house to clean the tank and will collect the waste free of charge," Kejriwal said.

The scheme will cover the septic tanks without sewer lines, mostly build in unauthorised colonies. However, Kejriwal said anyone without a sewer line can call for the service.

The government said there are 1,797 unauthorised colonies in Delhi and only about 430 have sewer lines. The sewer connection work is underway in close to 400 other. The underway connection will take time and as people are using the septic tank, the government will provide the service for cleaning.

He explained that around 45 lakh people in the authorized and unauthorized colonies of the national capital live in areas that do not have sewer pipelines and depend on septic tanks. "Whereas the process to install sewage pipelines across all the unauthorized colonies is going on, it is important to ensure the cleanliness of the septic tanks through safe means."

Kejriwal said till now private workers were hired for cleaning the tanks and "many people die while cleaning these tanks".

The objective of the scheme, he said, is to ensure that those forced to be a part of the manual scavenging trade do not have to put their lives at risk.

Kejriwal said this will be a big step to end sewer deaths.

"The government will hire an agency to clean the tanks and a tender will be floated within a month," Kejriwal said.

He said the trucks will collect the sludge from the septic tanks and take it to sewage treatment plants.

"The Delhi Jal Board will deploy 80 trucks, along with trained staff to ensure the cleaning and maintenance of the septic tanks across Delhi. The scheme will also ensure the safety of sanitation workers and proper septic waste management to prevent contamination of river Yamuna," Kejriwal said.

He said the private agencies involved in the maintenance and cleaning of the tanks do not have a valid licence to do so. They carry out such activities in an unauthorized and illegal manner and do not provide any safety equipment to the workers and put their lives at risk.

"The waste collected from the septic tanks is often disposed into the drains across the city, causing groundwater contamination and water pollution. To tackle such issues, we have initiated the Mukhyamantri Septic Tank Safai Yojana."

He said the scheme will fulfil the three-fold objective of collecting the waste from the septic tanks from the colonies, ensuring safe disposal of the waste in the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) of the government, and deploy trained staff with all the safety equipment for the work of septic tank cleaning.

Kejriwal said the Delhi Jal Board will ensure the cleaning and maintenance of all the septic tanks.

"We do not hear about unfortunate incidents about sanitation workers who are deployed for the cleaning of manholes across the city, as they are provided with all the necessary safety equipment. The workers deployed for the cleaning of septic tanks will be provided safety equipment in the same manner to ensure their safety and security," he added.