Manual Scavenging in India

In a national survey which was conducted by Niti Aayog, at least 54,130 manual scavengers have been identified in the 170 districts of 18 states in the country.

What is the manual scavenging?

  • Manual scavenging refers to the practice of physically cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. It is usually done on a daily or a weekly basis.
  • The manual scavengers use only the most basic of tools such as buckets, brooms, and baskets to clean and move the excreta.
  • Not only the entire procedure, unsanitary and dangerous to the health, it also hurts human dignity.
  • In spite of the best efforts by the government, manual scavenging continues to persist in parts of the country due to lack of alternatives like space to lay sewer lines, ill-held traditions and lack of other employment avenues for the poor.

What the government is doing to end manual scavenging?

The Central government has formulated the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, and has asked the state governments to ensure its proper implementation. Necessary action will be taken against the defaulters of the act.

Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

  • The law has prohibited the engagement of any person as a manual scavenger, the manual cleaning & entering of sewers and septic tanks without adequate PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • It also has provisions for providing rehabilitation to manual scavengers and alternative employment to them within the time-bound manner.
  • It has also specified that the construction and maintenance of the insanity latrines which require manual scavenging is an offense.

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