In Indian society, caste biases play a prominent role in work allocation. In this context, critically comment how Prohibition of employment of manual scavengers Act has fared?

Published: September 6, 2017

In modern Indian society caste based discrimination still exists, it not influences identity, but also influence the access to resources. Caste also plays a dominant role in work allocation, for example, the menial jobs like disposing of dead animals, manual scavenging are considered to be the jobs of lower castes.
In 2013, the government of India had enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act. The law prohibits the employment of manual scavengers. Law also intends to eliminate unsanitary latrines, which are the root cause of manual scavenging. Also, Cleaning of septic tanks and sewers without protective gear is prohibited under the law.
Despite the fact that there is law in force which it makes it mandatory for the employer to provide protective gears to workers, such rules are not followed, leading to various instances of death of sanitation workers. The poor implementation of the act is a major issue. As per the Act, every state government is required to constitute a state monitoring committee. However, till now only 12 states have constituted such vigilance and monitoring committee. Also, States do not submit quarterly progress reports. Municipalities have also not conducted a survey of manual scavengers due to lack of awareness and lack of seriousness regarding the act.
Because of various instances of death of sanitation workers government is planning to amend the Act to make contractors and private persons, engaged in cleaning of sewers, liable for such deaths and responsible for compensation to be paid to the victims.
The focus should be on effective implementation of the act. Along with that Clean India campaign can help in the eradication of manual scavenging with help of modern technological solutions so that such people who are engaged in manual scavenging can get a life of dignity.

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