Blog from NFA’s Monthly Blog Contest


For earning food people indulge in many jobs by not considering their health. One of the such job is Manual Scavenging. Manual Scavenging is the practice of manual cleaning, carrying, handling human excreta from dry latrines and severs. This is carried out by entering in the man holes using most basic tools like buckets, brooms and baskets.

In the city like Mumbai with population of 20 million produces 2,000 million of sewage which is equal to 800 Olympic sized swimming pools and to deal with this issue, the city employs just 30,000 sanitation workers. That means one worker is equal to 66,000 liters of sewage. Work itself is quite basic, and it doesn’t require any skillset, other than of course the ability not to puke.

Manual scavenging is done by the poorest and most disadvantaging communities in India and it is also linked to India’s caste system where low caste are expected to perform this job. Manual scavenging prohibition is really necessary for uplifting of the country’s growth. Indian should have a society where there is no discrimination and no women’s will be cleaning someone else’s shit.

Causes of manual scavenging:

1)Lack of waterborne latrines.

            2) Lack of incomplete rehabilitation and employment opportunities.

            3) Hereditary social standing.

            4) Lack of liberation strategies.

            5) Association of caste stigma.

            6) Poor implementation of manual scavenging act .

            7) Low awareness of their rights and education power.

            8) Low per capita income.

            9) Government deny the existence of scavenging despite death reports.

We have beloved caste system in our country where hierarchy from top starts from Brahmans consisting priest, teachers after that Kshatriya consisting of warriors, rulers after that vaishyas consisting of farmers, traders, merchants after that shudras consisting of laborers and category which is not counted is Dalits. The Dalits are involved from generation to generations in this job due to above causes.

It is estimated that 600 people die every year which is more than 10 times the number of indian soldiers killed by terrorists. Number of scavenging in india had come down from 8 lakh in 2003 to about 13,000 in 2013 But despite swacch bharat their figure shot upto 42,303 in 2019. 600 people died in past one year.The air we breathe consists of 78% Nitrogen, 20% oxygen and 2% other gases but inside this sewer lines the decomposition of garbage and fecal matter lead to increase in level of methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and ammonia which reduces oxygen level and causes hypoxin and leads to death.

For dealing with the similar situation in honk kong , the workers need to go through two year of extensive traning acquiring over 15 licenses and also they are given full body suits with attached oxygen cylinder but in india workers are not equipped with ventilators, gas concentration detectors, gloves, face masks. Manual scavengers to get relief are consuming alcohol which also ruins the environment of their family and also health.

The Government has taken no of initiatives focusing on conversion of insanitary latrines, rehabilitation and employment of manual scavengers, scholarship for their children. In 1993, India banned the employment of people as manual scavenger, it is regulated by prohibition of employment as manual scavengers and their rehabilitation Act, 2013.

This Act says that the person included in the final list of manual scavengers under Sections 11 and 12 of the 2013 Act, shall be rehabilitated in the following manner:

(a) At least one member of the family, shall be given training in livelihood skill.

(b) At least one adult member of their family, shall be given subsidy and concessional loan. National commission for safai karmacharis is been established. Self employment scheme for rehabilitation was introduced in 2007. Swatch bharat mission focuses on conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines. Supreme court of india gave judgement to identify and award 10 lakh rupees as compensation to families of person died in Man Hole. Hyderabad Municipal Corporation procured “ Bandicoot” Robot for manhole cleaning in Nov 2019.

Despite the large no of schemes, manual scavenging till continues. National commission for safai karmacharis have not updated even their websites. Government has lack of Budgetary support. States and Union Territories are slow in identifying insanitary latrines But way forward government have to provide skills to worker on ground level and free education to their children. Need to create community awareness about various schemes. Need political will to eradicate this practice. Use of technology to this hazardous jobs. Alternatives like bio-toilets in railways should be implemented everywhere. Workers are still working under private contractors which is considered to be illegal as per the 2013 Act and it has to be prohibited.

            We live in the country where even a chaiwala can become PM, and yet even after 72 years after independence, caste discrimination and caste privilege are engraved in our society. Yes it is fate that everyone is born equally so thats why we have constitution in which article 15 states to prohibit discrimination on basis of religion, race, place of birth, sex or cash and article 17 states abolishing untouchability and its practice in any form. We just need a Strong will to turn out India to be a good nation for poor people also which will give a real sense of pride to the name our india as “INCREDIBLE INDIA”.

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