Manual Scavenging: Brief introduction

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What is manual scavenging?

Manual scavenging is defined as “the removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters, and sewers.”

Who is doing manual scavenging in India?

The report presented in oxfamindia.org The International Dalit Solidarity Network claims that 1.3 million people in India, mostly women are involved in manual scavenging in which 99% are Dalits among 95% are women. Report’s Source on Oxfamindia

As we can see it is interlinked with caste, the people who are considered art lower strata in caste hierarchy in indian society are mostly assigned with such work because of which people treat such section in a bad way, they (savarnas) practice untouchability with them. They don’t allow them to enter in their houses, keep separate utensils for their use.

Take on Indian constitution on manual scavenging

Article 15 of Indian constitution talks about abolition of caste discrimination and Article 17 talks about abolition of untouchability.
In 2013, the prohibition of Employment as manual scavengers and their rehabilitation act put an end to the practice of any form of manual cleaning, disposing, carrying of human waste.
But even after decades of decades it is still prevalent. Have the people failed as a society? Or the government? Or the Indian constitution itself? Several questions are answered yet.

The prohibition on manual scavenging is clearly spelt out in International instruments as well. India was one of the first countries to ratify ILO Convention no. 111 which strives to promote equality in Employment and occupation by eradicating discrimination on various grounds including social origin.
After signing such convention Has any international organisation took any action when manual scavenging is still in practice?

As reported on The Scroll on February 24, 2020, From 2015-19 on average, one person died every five days while cleaning sewers manually. News link on Scroll

And according to The Hindu, 2019 saw the highest number of deaths of manual scavengers – 110 were killed. This was a 61% increase as compared to 2018 which saw 68 such cases. News link on The Hindu

What the government is coming up with in Union budgets for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers?

Analysis of previous few years union budgets


In the 2018 union budget, Rs. 85 crore was allocated for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, in 2019 union budget Rs. 8, 885 crores were allocated, there was such a drastic cut in the budget in 2019 but the worst step was taken in 2020 union budget that centre didn’t allocate any budget when in 2019 we saw the highest number of deaths of manual scavengers by saying that previous funds are yet to be utilised.
In the 2021 union budget, some amount larger than previous ones has been allocated. In union budget 2021, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman has allocated Rs. 100 crore for rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

Yet we need to ask this regime By allocating such a small amount of budget to manual scavenging Will be able to stop such heinous works? Even the previous money is not getting spent on the rehabilitation of manual scavengers then how they are gonna be ‘vishv guru’? Or the feet washing of safai karmchaaris by PM Modi is enough to go away with this practice?

Kuldeep Kumar bauddh, convener of Bundelkhand Dalit Rights Forum which works with manual scavengers told gaon connection that ” Though the government admits to the existence of manual scavengers, little is done for their rehabilitation. Budgetary allocations are inadequate and even that is not spent plus there is no accountability.”

The missing manual scavengers of India

The overview of manual scroungers in 2018 was led by the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) at the command of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This study, which discovered 87,913 manual foragers in India, was just directed in the legal towns of 14 Indian states.

Of the 87,913 manual scroungers distinguished by the overview, 42,303 were perceived by the service and just 27,268 have been coordinated into significant plans and have gotten any type of privileges or advantages from the service.

It is yet clearly a horribly underreported review, given the way that the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 distinguished 1,82,505 families with the essential control of manual rummaging.

While, the SKA assessed that the quantities of such scroungers were around 12 lakh, which appears to be more sensible, given the way that the Census of 2011 evaluations the quantity of dry restrooms in the country at around 26 lakh.

Despite the endeavors of the public authority, the presumption that the well-established act of manual rummaging has seen a drop of very nearly 89% in seven years (in light of the assessments done by the SKA in 2011 and the NSKFDC Census, 2018) is nonsensical. The way that this review was bound to legal towns in India is intelligent of the Central government’s endeavor to unshakably misconstrue manual rummaging as a metropolitan issue.

Read More Article on social awareness & issues around us on Himank Journal

Article By : Ashika Shivangi ( Writer & Activist)

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