Manual Scavenging in Tamil Nadu
- January 8, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Manual Scavenging in Tamil Nadu
Context: Social Awareness Society for Youth (SASY), a Dalit Human Rights Organisation recently conducted a study on ‘The status of implementation of prohibition of employment as manual scavengers and rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act – 2013 in Tamil Nadu’.
- SASY studied 21 cases related to manual scavenging, sewer tank deaths, incidents of caste-based discrimination against sanitary workers and related incidents in government schools in Tamil Nadu in 2021-22.
- The term is used mainly for “manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or sewer or in a septic tank or a pit”.
- This occupation is linked with caste in India. All kinds of cleaning are considered lowly and are assigned to people from the so-called lowest caste of the social hierarchy.
- The Parliament had enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which came in force from December 6, 2013.
- This outlaws all manual excrement cleaning of insanitary latrines, open drains, or pits.
- It also provides a constitutional responsibility to provide alternative jobs and other assistance to manual scavenging communities.
National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK)
- The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 to give its recommendations to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis.
- The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29th February, 2004.
- After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time through resolutions.
- It studies and evaluates the existing welfare programmes for Safai Karamcharis, investigates cases of specific grievances etc.
- As per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Center and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
- The Chairperson and Members of the Commission undertake extensive touring of the country to study the socio-economic and living conditions of Safai Karamcharis and their dependents.
- The Commission calls for the factual reports in connection with these complaints/petitions from the concerned authorities and impress upon them to redress the grievances of the affected Safai Karamcharis.
A National Policy for mechanized Sanitation Eco-system has been formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Department of Drinking water and Sanitation which envisages, inter alia, the following:
- Appointment of Responsible Sanitation Authority in every District.
- Setting up of Sanitation Response Unit (SRU) in each municipality.
- Equipping SRUs with necessary devices, machines and vehicles required for mechanized cleaning.
- Professionally trained manpower for mechanized cleaning.
- 24×7 helpline to receive complaints regarding blockage of sewers and septic tanks.
- Setting up facilities for evacuation, transportation and treatment of sludge from septic tanks.
- Training to the staff of municipalities and contractors in the mechanized cleaning of sewers/septic tanks.
The following measures have been taken to promote 100% mechanization, specially cleaning of sewers, septic tanks, desilting of drains, garbage lifting, sludge handling, solid and medical waste disposal etc. and for the benefit of sanitation workers (including waste pickers) and their dependants to provide sustainable livelihood:-
- Under the Swachhta Udyami Yojana (SUY) concessional loans are provided to sanitation workers and their dependants and the urban local bodies for procurement of sanitation related equipments, machines and vehicles costing upto Rs. 50.00 lakh. The Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) has been revised from 2020-21 to provide capital subsidy upto Rs. 5.00 lakh to sanitation workers and their dependants for sanitation related projects.
- Under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, free short duration upskilling training is provided to the sanitation workers. The candidates are trained about mechanized cleaning and safety precautions for safe and healthy cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
- Workshops are organised with officers, engineers, sanitary inspectors, supervisors, contractors and sanitation workers etc. of urban local bodies and authorities responsible for cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. During the workshops the participants are made aware about the provisions under the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013”, the rules framed there under and other provisions for safe and healthy cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.