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58,000 people in the country carry manual scavenging, 97 percent of them are Dalits… know what steps the government took to stop it

According to the Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act 1993, if a person gets manual scavenging done, he can be jailed for up to 2 years or fined one lakh or both.

The practice of manual scavenging continues 28 years after the ban(File Photo: Agency)

In the year 1993, manual scavenging was banned in the country. For this, an act (Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act 1993) was made. But even 28 years after the ban, about 58,000 people are still manual scavenging in the country. It is also worth noting that 97 percent of these people are from the Dalit community. The government has given this information in Parliament.

In fact, Rajya Sabha member from RJD, Prof Manoj Jha had asked questions in this regard in Parliament. In response to these questions, the Union Ministry of Social Justice has given this information. It was told by the ministry that 58,098 people in the country are engaged in manual scavenging.

Rajya Sabha member asked three questions

  1. RJD leader Manoj Jha had asked that what is the number of persons involved in manual scavenging? Give caste-based segregation details.
  2. What are the steps taken by the government for the economic upliftment of manual scavengers?
  3. What are the efforts made by the government now to ban this practice completely?

Dalits out of 58,098 manual scavengers

The Union Ministry of Social Justice told Parliament that a total of 58,098 people are engaged in manual scavenging work in the country. The ministry said that as per the law there is no restriction regarding caste for identification of manual scavengers but still surveys have been conducted under the provisions of the Act. Out of these, only 43,797 people have been identified as caste.

Out of 43,797 people, 42,594 people come from SC i.e. Scheduled Caste community. Apart from this, 421 people are tribal, while 431 people are from OBC community. Apart from these, 351 other classes of people are included.

What steps has the government taken so far?

In response to the second question from the ministry, it was told that manual scavengers are being used for other works. Financial assistance is also being given to them.

  1. An identified manual scavenger is being given a lump sum of 40 thousand rupees by the government.
  2. During the training for their skill development, an incentive amount of three thousand rupees per month is also being given.
  3. Under self-employment projects, capital subsidy of up to Rs 5 lakh is being given to manual scavengers for taking loans.
  4. The ministry says that the manual scavenger and his family have also been given the benefit of health insurance schemes.
  5. On what the government did to ban the practice of manual scavenging, the ministry cited a law enacted in 2013.

There is also a provision for punishment for scavenging

The practice of manual scavenging and transport was banned in the year 1993. For this the government had passed the Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act 1993. Declaring manual scavenging as a crime, there is also a provision of punishment for getting it done.

  1. According to the Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act, no person, company, firm or agency can recruit a person to clean sewers, septic tanks, drains, etc.
  2. If a person gets someone to do manual scavenging, he can be jailed for up to two years or he can be fined one lakh. Or both can be punishment.

Despite enactment of law, the practice continues

It has been more than 28 years since the law against manual scavenging was enacted, but even this law is not proving to be enough to curb this evil practice. The Safai Karamchari Andolan, an organization fighting against this evil practice, claims that there are still 26 lakh dry toilets in the country, whose cleaning is on manual scavengers.

According to the organization, about 7.7 lakh people are forced to clean the gutters and drains. Due to not being given the necessary safety equipment, many times they die due to the poisonous gas formed inside the gutter. The organization claims that 1,760 manual scavengers have died in such cases so far. However, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had replied in Parliament in July that there were no deaths due to manual scavenging.

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