Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Manual Scavengers

Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Manual Scavengers

This article deals with ‘Welfare Schemes , Laws and Institutions for Manual Scavengers.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Issues with Manual Scavenging

  • Manual Scavengers are mostly Scheduled Castes ( Balmiki caste) who  are involved in manually  removing the human excrement from dry toilets of higher-caste families. In 1901, Mahatma Gandhi termed manual scavenging a national shame
  • Manual Scavengers are considered impure & untouchable (in caste hierarchy resting on Purity & Pollution)  
  • Manual Scavengers have low life expectancy.  Unhygienic work make them vulnerable to various infections 
  • Manual Scavengers are payed low wages and no financial security

Their numbers

  • According to Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 –  8 Lakh  manual scavengers 
  • However, actual number is much more

Initiatives already taken

1 . Legal initiatives

  • Manual Scavengers (Prohibition and rehabilitation) Act,2013 
    • A “manual scavenger” is defined as a person who is engaged for manually cleaning  human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or on a railway track.
    • If anyone employs a manual scavenger or constructs an insanitary latrine=> imprisonment up to one year or a fine of Rs 50,000 or both. 
    • Each occupier of an insanitary latrine is responsible for demolishing it at his own cost.
    • Tasks the government to  rehabilitate them in other jobs after training
  • National Commission for Safai Karamchari has been formed to protect the interests of Manual Scavengers.

2. Judicial Support

In 2014, Supreme court ordered that

  • Manual  scavenging has to be ended
  • Directed the centre & states to rehabilitate the scavengers 

3. Technology use

  • Installation of bio-digestors at public places and especially in the railways .

4. Swachh Bharat Mission

  • Scheme has a provision to construct the flush toilets and penalize the dry toilet pit construction 

5. Other Initiatives

  • Valmiki Malin Awas Yojana: To provide housing to the safai karamcharis
  • National Scheme for  Rehabilitation of Scavengers: To provide  training  & rehabilitate them

Why we arent able to stop it till now ?

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan => currently Rs. 12,000 is given to built latrine =>  poor quality requiring services of scavengers for cleaning septic tanks
  • Term is not properly defined=>  If protective gear is used, then we don’t count it but they still suffer from ritual impurity
  • Western toilets  used in India require more water => in  water scarce villages , people go for dry toilet.

Some incidents in the past

2020Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) has revealed that 282 manual scavengers have been killed in last three years in India while cleaning sewers and septic tanks
Jan 2018 3 manual scavengers died in Bangalore
July 2017 4 Manual Scavengers died while cleaning Septic Tank in Delhi

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