Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

End to manual scavenging

With the amendment of the Manual Scavenging law, government is taking a major decision to end manual scavenging. Even though there were laws in place to end this in 2019 around 110 workers were killed while cleaning sceptic tanks and sewers. Hyderabad shows an example by using sewer machines.

Manual scavenging continues to be a problem in India despite the laws to stop it. According to a  national survey conducted in 18 States, a total of 48,345 manual scavengers have been identified till January 31, 2020. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 punishes the employment of scavengers or the construction of dry (non-flush) latrines with imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of Rs 2,000. Under the Manual Scavenging Act, 2013. As per the provisions of the law, manual scavengers are to be identified and rehabilitated.

But data collected in 2018 shows that 29,923 people are engaged in manual scavenging in Uttar Pradesh, which is the highest state with manual scavengers. In 2019 around 110 workers were killed while cleaning sceptic tanks and sewers.

To eliminate the manual scavenging, amendment of Manual Scavenging Act will be done and replace the word ‘manhole’ with ‘machine hole’. Also mechanized cleaning will be made a practice. Telangana has shown the example by introducing 70 Mini Sewer Jetting Machines in Hyderabad to put an end to manual scavenging in the city. These mini sewer machines will make the process of cleaning the clogged sewage lines easier. This is the first of its kind initiative in India and is the joint effort of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board (HMWSSB) and Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI). We can hope that with the Amendment bill the manual scavenging will be abolished from the country.

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