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Social Justice

Manual Scavenging in India

  • 14 Jan 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Key Points

  • Numerical Analysis:
    • Since 1993, a total of 926 deaths related to the manual scavenging is reported in the country, out of which 172 families are yet to receive compensation.
  • State-wise Analysis:
    • Engaged Workers: According to the National Commission of Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a total of 53,598 people, of which 29,923 were in Uttar Pradesh alone, had been identified as engaged in manual scavenging after surveys in 2013 and 2018.
    • Deaths: Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of deaths but has paid compensation in all but seven of the 234 cases.
    • Compensation: Gujarat has the highest number of cases where the compensation amount was not paid followed by Maharashtra.
  • Steps taken for Elimination:
    • Currently, one-time cash assistance, capital subsidy and skill development training are provided to the identified manual scavengers.

Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

  • Prohibition: The act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.
  • Rehabilitation: It seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.
  • Implementing Authority: Each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction. They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.
    • The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities. Offences under the Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable and may be tried summarily.

Reasons for Persistence of Manual Scavenging

  • Despite the most stringent penal provisions in the law against manual scavenging, it continues in parts of India largely due to governmental indifference and social prejudice.
  • The continued presence of insanitary latrines, of which there are about 2.6 million that require cleaning by hand, according to Safai Karmachari Andolan.
  • Many communities still regard the presence of a sanitary toilet inside the house as physical pollution.
  • The entrenched belief in the caste system that assumes people belonging to a particular caste group will readily perform the stigmatised task of emptying latrines.
  • The state governments are not keen to demolish and rebuild old facilities lacking sanitation, or conduct a full census of both the latrines and the people engaged in clearing such waste.

National Commission of Safai Karamcharis

  • The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) was constituted on 12th August 1994 as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament viz. ‘National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993’.
  • The act “The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993” lapsed in February 2004.
  • The Commission is acting as a non-statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment whose tenure is extended from time to time through Government Resolutions.

Source: TH

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