You are on page 1of 22

Manual Scavenging

The practice of manual cleaning of sewers without safety equipments is not only violation of
the laws of the land but reflects the inhuman attitude towards certain sections of society, the
life conditions they face. There is urgent need to take proactive actions against such
practices and those violating the laws should be strictly punished. Thus, hereby discussing
the issue of manual scavenging in India.

Why manual scavenging is prevalent in India?

Scavenging has been an occupation imposed upon certain citizens of the country by the
society, which later on continued as a traditional occupation among Scheduled Castes. This
class of citizens of India is known as Manual Scavengers.

 Manual scavenging exists primarily because of absence of water borne latrines. The House-listing
and Housing Census, 2011 reported that there are about 26 lakh insanitary latrines in the country.
 With emergence of urban areas these people were also employed for cleaning of sewers or septic
tanks.
 Low level of education, awareness about their rights, laws and low self esteem force them to take
such work.
 Lack of empathy among the government, contractors and household members employing manual
scavengers is another reason, wherein these class of people fail to see the agony of the manual
scavengers.
 Poor implementation of the existing laws has also helped in continuation of this practice.
 These section of society are not organized and don’t have any significant voice in the government
structures which cause their voice being unheard.
Manual scavengers are exposed to the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections
that affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. The toxic gases
from sewers create death threat for them. Their children are also caught up in this
quagmire. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible for their children to become
educated. Even though, in modern times these people desire to leave the profession, their
social, economic, educational and cultural aspects have made it difficult for them to find an
alternate profession. The social stigma of untouchability continues to stick, in one form or
the other largely because of the unclean nature of their occupation.
Government initiatives to eliminate manual scavenging

Considering the seriousness of the situation government has taken a number of initiatives
focussing on conversion of insanitary latrines, rehabilitation and employment of manual
scavengers, scholarships for their children being the main focus area.

 Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ (MS Act,
2013) which came into effect from 6thDecember, 2013 replaced Employment of Manual
Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) Act, 1993.This Act intends to achieve
its objectives to:-
1. Eliminate the insanitary latrines.
2. Prohibit:-
1. Employment as Manual Scavengers
2. Hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
 Survey of Manual Scavengers and their rehabilitation,
within a time bound manner. The act says National Commission for Safai Karamcharis
(NCSK) would monitor implementation of the Act and enquire into complaints regarding
contravention of the provisions of the Act.

 Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers(SRMS), a successor scheme


to NSLRS ( National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their
Dependents), was introduced in January, 2007 with the objective to rehabilitate remaining manual
scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations, in a time bound manner. The
responsibility of rehabilitation of the identified manual scavengers to the National Safai
Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation.
 Apart from these under Swachh Bharat Mission focus has been given on conversion of insanitary
latrines into sanitary latrines.
 Under the Scheme of “Pre Matric Scholarship to the Children of those engaged in Occupations
involving cleaning and prone to health hazards”, being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice
and Empowerment, the children of manual scavengers are also provided scholarship.
 Honorable Supreme Court of India gave landmark judgment to identify and award compensation of
Rs 10 lakh to dependents in deaths of sewerage workers who died while cleaning sewerage and
septic tanks since 1993.
Problems in implementation
Despite a large number of schemes and provisions the inhuman practice of manual
scavenging has continued.

 The National Safai Karmachari Commission which was mandated to implement the act has not been
functioning properly. Its website has not been updated about recent developments and new
initiatives.
 In urban areas municipalities are cash short to use machines for cleaning of the sewers or provide
protective equipments. They generally blame contractors for any loss of life.
 The States/UT’s are slow in identification of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers as there is no
time-bound plan for identification of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers.
 Further, in a case filed in the Supreme Court of India, many States/UTs gave affidavit that there are
no insanitary latrines in their jurisdiction. Due to fear of contempt of the Court, they hesitate in
reporting existence of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers in their States/UTs.
 At present the work of conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines is being attended to as a
part of broad programme of construction of toilets. There is a need to have a time-bound approach as
per the mandate of the MS Act, 2013, for conversion of insanitary latrines.
Rehabilitation of manual scavengers is also slow and in many cases not adequate due to
various problems being faced, which include:-

1. Manual scavengers are mostly illiterate and have no exposure to any work, other than sanitation
related work. Many of them are old. They lack confidence for running self employment projects.
Many of them are not willing even to avail any skill development training.
2. Banks are hesitant about providing loan to manual scavengers. Even many State Channelising
Agencies, due to low rate of recovery of loan from safai karamcharis, are not willing to extend loan
to manual scavengers.
Due to low confidence levels the identified manual scavengers demand that they may be
provided jobs of safai karamchari in local authorities.

Way forward

In India of 21st century, which aspires to be world power the practice of manual scavenging
must be completely abolished, otherwise it will remain a blot on India and its value system.
An aggressive campaign for this which focus on attitudinal change of the all sections of the
society must be followed. The National Commission for Safai Karamchari must be made
responsive and responsible to the needs of time. Swachh Bharat Mission may be used to
actively target conversion of insanitary latrines on priority basis. Liberated manual
scavengers must be linked to social security and other welfare schemes to ensure that they
are not dependent on this inhuman work for their survival. All these steps if taken seriously
the problem of manual scavenging can be eliminated
In News: With an aim of eliminating human entry into septic tanks and drains for cleaning, the
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a ‘technology challenge’ seeking suitable
solutions from individuals and NGOs.
Background: Three labourers died cleaning a sewage treatment plant in Loni, Ghaziabad. The
deaths were allegedly caused by poisonous gas in the plant. Reports suggest that none of them were
even aware of the gases, and were without the necessary safety equipment.
Key Points:
 Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) released in 2015, states that there were around 0.18
million manual scavenging households in rural areas.
 A government survey identifies 12,226 manual scavengers in 12 states. Most septic tanks are
emptied manually in Indian cities.
 The lack of proper safeguards puts manual scavengers at risk of infections, which are
occasionally fatal.
 Statistics show that 80% of India’s sewage cleaners die before they turn 60, after contracting
various infectious diseases.
The Technology Challenge:
The initiative is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently expressed a
desire for a challenge to promote latest technologies to avoid human intervention in cleaning of
sewers and septic tanks in the country.
Objectives:
 Identify technological and business process innovations
 Endorse viable business models suitable for cities of different sizes and geographies, and pilot
test shortlisted technologies and solutions in select project cities
 Bridge the gap between innovators or manufacturers and beneficiaries such as urban local bodies
and citizens
Loopholes in the Law:
 Manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993. Employing people to the profession carries
possible imprisonment penalties for up to one year and fine of 50,000 rupees. Still, demand for
scavengers remains high.
 The 2013 Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act aimed
to introduce safety measures for manual scavengers and encouraged their rehabilitation. Activists
and manual scavengers have since criticized the law on the grounds that it does not strictly ban
the practice.
 Manual scavenging also persists due to the continued presence of “insanitary latrines,” where
human waste has to be cleaned physically and not by a machine or sewage system. The majority
of such latrines are dry latrines, which don’t use water. According to the 2011 Census, there are
about 2.6 million dry latrines in India.
 Protective gear like gloves, gas masks and boots are often not provided by employers, in
violation of the 2013 law, leading to diseases and even death. There is no proper accountability
system in place.
 The 2013 Act allows manual scavenging if the employer provides ‘protective gear’; However,
the Act does not define what constitutes ‘protective gear,’ creating a possibility for employers to
exploit this provision
Social Exclusion experienced by Manual Scavengers: Both for belonging to a low caste and being
in a stigmatized profession
 Denied access to places of worship, public sources of water
 Excluded from cultural events
 High gender pay gap (2014 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled “Cleaning Human
Waste released”)
Patriarchy made women clean where no one else wants to clean up. Rehabilitation is also more
difficult for women as most of them are middle-aged and elderly.
When we look at the practice of manual scavenging in light of the caste hierarchies prevalent it
becomes amply evident that manual scavenging has traditionally been relegated to those present at
the bottom-most step of this caste ladder. So, even among the Dalits, manual scavengers are one of
the lower-most sub-groups, and are treated as such, even by the Dalits who occupy a higher place
than them in the caste hierarchy.
The Way Forward:
Government needs to now act with speed, sensitivity and consideration.
Urgent need of the hour – Political Will: The machines to clean sewers and septic tanks are already
available globally, but they need to be adapted to Indian conditions, and the government needs to
show the political will to actually use the technology on the ground on a large scale. A strong
political will is required to reform the system, and rescue the thousands from a life that denies them
basic dignity and rights.
Fulfil Present Legal Provisions: Neither contractors nor municipalities are providing the equipment
and logistical and medical support mandated by the law. Thus, even as we consider technology
solutions, there is a need to fulfil the provisions of the law already there. Otherwise, all the
innovation will not result in change on the ground.
Human Rights need to be Respected: India cannot claim to be “clean,” because we have doomed a
specific caste to clean our toilets, our garbage and our sewers manually. Some 95% of the people
engaged in this degrading practice are Dalits. The National Human Rights Commission has termed
manual scavenging as one of the “worst violations” of human rights. The casteist mindset of the
Government also needs to go an overhaul.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan needs to work for the manual scavengers first: The Swachh Bharat
Abhiyan hasn’t made things better either as dry latrines are being built under the scheme. Although
the campaign encourages building composting toilets, bio-toilets and leach pits, people mostly
choose to build toilets with septic tanks and dry pits, which have to be serviced manually.
Book officials failing to enforce manual scavenging law
Please Note:
 Mahatma Gandhi: “Everyone must be his own scavenger.”
 “Open defecation free” not only means that there is no visible faeces in the environment; it also
means that every household and public institution uses safe technology to dispose of the same.
 The National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management, 2017, states that
employment of manual scavengers is illegal, but it does not suggest mechanical alternatives to
unclog septic tanks, drains and sewers.
 Bio-toilets: Bio-digester toilets are designed to convert human waste into gases and manure.
o The zero-waste biodigester technology uses psychrotrophic bacteria like Clostridium and
Methanosarcina (these microbes can live in cold or hot climate and feed on waste to
survive) to break down human excreta into usable water and gas. Once applied, the bacteria
can work for a lifetime.
o Waste from toilets are sent to a giant underground bio-digester tank where anaerobic
digestion takes place. Methane gas produced in the tanks can be used for different purposes,
including firing up gas stoves and generating electricity while the leftovers (popularly called
Humanure or ‘Human manure’) can be used for gardening and farming. It does not have any
geographical or temperature limitation and also does away with the need to set up large
sewerage networks.
o The technology was originally developed by the Defence Research Development
Organization’s (DRDO). The best feature of this toilet is that it totally does away with
manual scavenging, is low on maintenance and installation cost and can be adapted to any
geo-climatic conditions of the country.
o _____________

Enforcing Manual
Scavenging Law
iasparliament
September 17, 2018
6 months
1408
0

What is the issue?

 There were instances of death while cleaning septic tanks, in Delhi and
Odisha, recently.
 This calls for addressing the shortfalls in implementation of the manual
scavenging law.

What does the law mandate?

 Manual scavenging is regulated by the Prohibition of Employment as


Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
 Under this, no person, local authority or agency should engage or employ
people for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
 Mechanised cleaning of septic tanks is the prescribed norm.
 Safety gear for rare instances when human intervention is unavoidable is
prescribed.
 A violation can be punished with two years of imprisonment or fine or
both.
 It also prohibits the construction of insanitary latrines.
 Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be responsible for converting or
demolishing the latrine at his/her own cost.
 The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing
authorities.

What are the policy shortfalls?

 The workers in Delhi were asked to perform the task in violation of the
manual scavenging Act.
 Apparently, many requirements of worker safety provided in the law are
often ignored.
 A well-funded programme as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) pays little
attention to this aspect of sanitation.
 More tanks are being built in rural and urban areas as part of the drive to
construct toilets.
 But manual scavenging law is not being enforced, and there is no fear of
penalties.
 Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had itself acknowledged that in
rural areas, mechanical pumps to clear septic tanks are not available.
 In the southern States, sanitation has expanded along with urbanisation.
 But it has brought with it a higher number of deaths as workers clean
septic tanks manually.
 E.g. Tamil Nadu recorded 144 fatalities of workers engaged for septic tank
cleaning in the past three years.

What is to be done?

 Mere assertion by the Centre that it was pressing State governments to


prosecute violators is ineffective.
 There is a need for political will and social pressure to avoid any further
deaths.
 If the law on manual scavenging is to be effective, the penalties must be
uniformly and visibly enforced.
 It is equally important for State governments to address the lack of
adequate machinery to clean septic tanks.
 Toilet designs proposed by the government include those in which fully
composted waste must be removed from pits every two years.

 The Centre must ensure that this does not become an avenue to oppress
members of some communities, reflecting social inequalities.
 The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should make expansion of the sewer network
a top priority.
 It should come up with a scheme for scientific maintenance that will end
manual cleaning of septic tanks.

Source: The Hindu


Meaning of manual scavenging (MS)

 Is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of untreated human excreta from


insanitary (or ‘dry’) latrines
 It has been officially abolished by law in India as a dehumanizing practice – the Manual
Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (MSRA, 2013) has replaced the 1993 Act.
 There are three types of MS
1. Manual Scavengers
2. Sewerage workers/septic tank cleaners
3. Sweepers

Caste Census 2011 Figures / Appraisal of govt efforts

1. >1.6 lakh households had at least 1 member working as a MS. This puts the number of
manual scavengers in India at ≅1.7 lakh (mostly women).
2. ≅12k manual scavengers were identified across India in 2016 – 82% of these are in UP
(Ministry of Social Justice figures, 2016)
3. There exist 2.6 Mn insanitary latrines. 72% of these are in Andhra, Assam, J&K, Maha,
TN, UP and WB

Problems with the profession / Why it should be banned

 Undignified life (all the 6 Fundamental Rights are compromised, directly or indirectly)
 It perpetuates casteism
 Modern, secular india has no place for such “professions”
 Doesn’t suit India’s rising global profile – ‘super power’ aspirations
 Women empowerment (most manual scavengers are dalit women)

MSRA 2013

Prohibits

 the employment of manual scavengers,


 the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and
 the construction of insanitary latrines

Fixes responsibility on each local authority, cantonment board and railway


authority to

 survey insanitary latrines (i.e latrines without water) within its jurisdiction and
 construct sanitary community latrines (demolition cost to be borne by the owner of such
latrine)

Offenses under the act are non-bailable

 punishable with fines and jail

Seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers, and

 provide for their alternative employment

Anti-MS Efforts

By the centre (govt of India)

 Legal measures
 budgetary support for the implementation of MSRA, 2013
 Policy support
 Scholarship schemes for children of those engaged in MS
 Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

By the states

 MSRA, 2013
 primary responsibility for its implementation
 UP govt
 ‘Daliya Jalao’ initiative freed almost 10% MS (of the state’s total MS burden) within a
year (spillover effects in terms of control over polio and diarrhoea)
Institutional action

 NHRC reprimanding states


 National Cmsn for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) – welfare functions

Why manual scavenging persists

Govt apathy

1. poor implementation of the MSRA, 2013

 2.6 Mn insanitary latrines still exist (NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan, Census 2011 data)
 72% of these are in Andhra, Assam, J&K, Maha, TN, UP and WB
 1.3 million Dalits (mostly women) make living as manual scavengers (NGO data)

2 99% reduction (2014 vs. 2017) in budgetary allocations by the centre

 This is despite goi’s commitment towards sanitation and a dedicated cess

Indian Railways

1. continues to be the largest employer of MS (no data available about the no. of MS
employed)
2. typically employs MS through ‘contractors’

Societal prejudice

1. popular insensitivity towards the issue


2. the notion of caste and pollution
3. stigmatisation of the dalits

Way Forward

 Civil Society
1. more intense activism is needed
 Judiciary
1. judicial activism should be resorted to
2. if the SC can ban liquor stores on highways, why is MS being ignored?
 Vigilant Media
1. can pressurize govt into action by animating the issue of MS
 Govt
1. strict implementation of MSRA, 2013

Share this:
[This article is written specifically for UPSC IAS exam aspirants.
visit www.iasexpress.net for more articles]

Why in news?

There are growing instances of deaths while cleaning septic tanks


and sewage treatment plants in several states. This highlights the
need for better understanding the problems being faced by manual
scavengers and addressing the challenges in the implementation
of the manual scavenging law.

What is Manual Scavenging?

 Manual Scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning,


carrying, or handling human excreta from dry latrines and
sewers.
 It mostly involves using the most basic tools like buckets,
brooms, and baskets.
 Manual scavengers are amongst the poorest and most
disadvantaged communities in India.
 Manual scavenging is linked to India’s caste system where the
so-called low castes were expected to perform this job.

What are the problems being faced by Manual


Scavengers?

 Manual Scavengers in India does the work without any safety


equipment, which puts them under the risk of infections and
asphyxiations (deprived of oxygen), which are often become
fatal.
They are exposed to most virulent forms of viral and bacterial
infections that affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and
gastrointestinal systems.

Statistics prove that 80% of India’s sewage cleaners die before they
turn 60, after contracting various infectious diseases.

Every 5 days one person loses the life on an average due to


infections and accidents in the process of manual scavenging in
India.

 Their Children are also caught up in the plight and make it


impossible for them to continue their education.
 The job is still being performed by communities who are
considered untouchables or lower castes. Hence they still face
social inequality and exclusion from society.

They are denied access to places of worship, public sources of


water.

They are excluded from cultural events etc.

 Due to the patriarchy in society, most manual scavengers who


clean dry latrines are women. But here also, women are being
discriminated against and are paid meager.

Why manual scavenging still persist in India?

 Manual scavenging exists mainly due to the continued presence


of insanitary latrines where human waste has to be cleaned
physically, rather than by a machine or sewage system. The
majority of such insanitary latrines are dry latrines which don’t
use water.
 Even if they want to leave their profession, their untouchability
and uncleanliness tag and the resultant social stigma makes it
impossible for them to find alternative jobs.
 Increasing urbanization in the country requires more manual
scavengers for the cleaning of sewers or septic tanks.
 Low education level, low awareness of their rights & laws, job
risks and low self-esteem force them to take such work.
 Lack of empathy among the government, contractors and
household members employing manual scavengers, who fail to
understand their plight.
 Poor enforcement of existing laws is also a reason for the
continuance.
 Manual scavengers are not an organized group and don’t have
any significant voice in the political and government structures.
Hence their problems are not considered to a major issue.

What are the measures taken?

 The government has taken a number of initiatives focussing on


conversion of insanitary latrines, rehabilitation, and
employment of manual scavengers, scholarships for their
children.
 In 1993, India banned the employment of people as manual
scavengers.
 Manual Scavenging is regulated by the Prohibition of
Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation
Act, 2013 which further reinforces the ban.

Under this, no person, local authority or agency should engage or


employ people for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
Mechanised cleaning of septic tanks is the prescribed norm.

When human intervention is unavoidable, safety gear is


mandatory.

A violation can be punished with 2 years of imprisonment or fine


or both.

It also prohibits construction of insanitary latrines.

Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be held responsible for


converting or demolishing the latrine at his or her own cost.

The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the


implementing authorities.

 Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual


Scavengers (SRMS),

It was introduced in 2007 with the aim to rehabilitate remaining


manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative
occupations, in a time bound manner.

The responsibility of rehabilitation of the identified manual


scavengers is given to the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and
Development Corporation which was established to safeguard the
interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis (Manual Scavengers).

 Swachh Bharat Mission focusses on conversion of insanitary


latrines into sanitary latrines.
 Scheme of “Pre Matric Scholarship to the Children of those
engaged in Occupations involving cleaning and prone to health
hazards”,
Under this, children of manual scavengers are provided
scholarships.

It is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice &


Empowerment.

 Supreme Court of India gave landmark judgement to identify


and award compensation of Rs 10 lakh to dependents in deaths
of sewerage workers who died while cleaning sewerage and
septic tanks since 1993.
 Recently, in July 2018, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
has launched a ‘technology challenge” with an aim of
eliminating human entry into septic tanks and drains for
cleaning.
 Several NGOs are dedicated to solving this issue

Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) — a national movement for total


eradication of manual scavenging.

Association for Rural and Urban Needy (ARUN) based on


Hyderabad works for the enforcement of the national ban on
manual scavenging.

JANVIKAS also focusing on manual scavenging.


Also read: Modern Slavery in India — The Ugly Truth

“Don’t Miss any Article — Subscribe to IAS EXPRESS”

How is the implementation?

 Despite a large number of schemes and provisions, the


inhuman practice of manual scavenging still continues.
 The National Safai Karmachari Commission has not been
functioning properly. Its website has not been updated about
recent developments and initiatives.
 Protective gears such as gloves, gas masks, and boots are often
not provided by employers, in violation of the 2013 Act. This
resulted in diseases and even deaths. There is no proper
accountability mechanism in place.
 The Act allows manual scavenging if the employer provides
protective gear. However, the Act doesn’t define what
constitutes protective gear = employers exploit this provision.
 Municipalities don’t have enough fund to use machines for
cleaning the sewers and also to provide safety gears. Also, they
generally blame contractors for any loss of life.
 States and UTs are slow in the identification of insanitary
latrines and manual scavengers since there is no time-bound
plan for doing that.
 Furthermore, many states hesitate in reporting the existence of
insanitary latrines and manual scavengers in their jurisdiction
due to the fear of contempt of the court.
 Rehabilitation works are also very slow due to various
challenges as follows

Lack of budgetary support,

Manual scavengers are generally uneducated,

They have no exposure to other works,

Many of them are old particularly women,

They lack confidence in doing self-employment and


Many of them do not come forward to avail any skill development
training.

 Banks are unwilling to provide a loan to manual scavengers due


to the low rate of recovery of a loan from them.
Also read: Anti-trafficking Bill — Article 23 Vs Article 21

What is the way forward?

 Need to ensure discrimination-free, secure and alternate


livelihoods by providing skill development and livelihood
training particularly for manual scavenger women.
 Need to create a community awareness and sensitization of
local administration in order to provide a favourable
environment for the implementation of law and schemes.
 Need to build leadership in the community to better voice their
problems in the social, economic and political circles.
 Need to build the capacity of manual scavengers to promote
rehabilitation efforts.
 Need to improve the educational status of the children of
manual scavengers.
 Need to demolish or rebuild old facilities that lack sanitation.
 Need to increase confidence level among the manual
scavengers is vital for rehabilitation efforts.
 Need for political will to eradicate this practice.
 New alternatives like Bio-toilets in railway shall be
implemented everywhere.
 Performance appraisal and rewarding at the local level will help
in effective implementation of the initiatives.
 Social persuasion through social media, Newspaper, plays or
advertising etc.
 As Raja Ram Mohan Roy rightly said, “Change should come
from society itself”. Hence we need to strike at the root cause
i.e., caste prejudice.

“Don’t Miss any Article — Subscribe to IAS EXPRESS”


 Sanitation
 Upsc
 Upsc Preparation
 Upsc Civil

Manual Scavenging

Are you the ONE who don't like to take chances and waste one precious year by failing in Prelims?

Do you want to test your knowledge after reading a particular topic? Then The MCQ Factory (TMF) is for you! It provides topic
wise high quality MCQs for testing your knowledge in a particular topic. More details here
What is Manual Scavenging?
“Manual scavenger” means a person engaged in or employed for manually
carrying human excreta and the expression “manual scavenging” shall be
construed accordingly.

Some events/keywords related to it?


 Manual Scavenging in modern airports:
 Despite Manual Scavenging being banned in Tamil Nadu it still takes place at
the Chennai airport.
 Workers have been spotted cleaning the manholes on the premises of the
airport without even any protective gear.
 In November 2012, thousands of Dalit women started a 63-day long National
March – Maila Mukti Yatra, for eradication of manual scavenging under
the ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan‘ banner, demanding comprehensive
rehabilitation of people who have been forced into manual scavenging.
 30 people died last year due to manual scavenging in TN only.
Facts:
 Census 2011 has found 7.94 lakh cases of human scavenging in the country.
 The ‘Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition)
Act‘ enacted in 1993 by the Government of India prohibits manual scavenging
in the country.
 In 2013, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their
Rehabilitation Bill, to ban manual scavenging and rehabilitate those who were
forced to do it, was introduced.
 The Central government, which runs the self-employment scheme for the
rehabilitation of these workers, has reduced funds from ₹448 crore in the 2014-
15 budget to ₹5 crore this year.
What are the measures taken by the government to end it?
 In 1980-81, the Ministry of Home Affairs took up the Centrally Sponsored
Scheme for Liberation of Scavengers by way of conversion of existing dry
latrines into low cost pour flush latrines and providing alternative employment
to the unemployed scavengers as one of the measures for removal of
Untouchability and providing financial assistance in selected towns.
 A Task Force constituted by the Planning Commission in July 1989 on the
subject suggested for separate scheme for liberation and rehabilitation. It also
explored the bases for the enactment of certain legislation to ban construction
and continuation of dry latrines and prohibit the practice of manual scavenging.
 In 1992, the scheme of ‘Liberation of Scavengers’ was bifurcated.
 For conversion of dry latrines into water borne flush latrines, an ‘Integrated
Low Cost Sanitation (ILCS) Scheme, was started.
 The National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their
Dependents (NSLRS) was started for providing alternative employment to the
liberated scavengers and their dependents.
 Taking into consideration the seriousness of the problem and the requests of the
State Governments, Parliament enacted the “Employment of Manual
Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) Act, 1993”. The Act,
inter alia, provides that no person shall:-
 engage in or employ for or permit to be engaged in or employed for any
other person for manually carry human excreta; or
 Construct or maintain a dry latrine
 Parliament passed the ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers
and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ (MS Act, 2013)
 The objectives of 2013 Act
 Eliminate the insanitary latrines.
 Prohibit:-
 Employment as Manual Scavengers
 Hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
 Survey of Manual Scavengers and their rehabilitation
 Main features of the 2013 Act
 Definitions of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines widened to cover
not only dry latrines but other insanitary latrines as well.
 Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bail able and attract
stringent penalties.
 Vigilance/Monitoring Committee at sub-Division, District, State and
Central Govt. levels.
 National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) would, inter alia,
monitor implementation of the Act and enquire into complaints regarding
contravention of the provisions of the Act.
 Provision of construction of adequate number of sanitary community
latrines in urban areas, within three years from the date of commencement
of this Act to eliminate the practice of open defecation.
Constitutional safeguards:
 Article 14: Equality before law. (Right to Equality)
 Article 16 (2): Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
 Article 19 (1)(g) : Right to Freedom (Protection of certain rights regarding
freedom of speech), to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation,
trade or business.
 Article 21 : Protection of life and personal liberty
 Article 23 : Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor
Source:
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/get-real-on-swachh-on-manual-
scavenging/article19303180.

Related Interests