KOZHIKODE: Manual scavenging exists in south Kerala though it has been banned by law. A state-level survey conducted by the Suchitwa Mission, the nodal agency for sanitation, has found that there are 600 manual scavengers in the region. The survey-cum-identification camp conducted by the mission under the direction of National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) covered the four districts of Kollam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Palakkad. Kollam district has the highest number of manual scavengers- 274, followed by Ernakulam-155, Alappuzha -96, and Palakkad-75.
“The survey was done in April and May this year by inviting manual scavengers to register under the Safai Karmachari organisation with their identity card revealing permanent residence,” said Dr T. Shiju, Suchitwa Mission project director of the survey. “The registered persons will be provided with rehabilitation and financial assistance from NSKDFC,” he added.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 defines 'manual scavenger' as a person engaged or employed by an individual or a local authority or an agency or a contractor for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit, or on a railway track or in such other spaces. Though the state government had set apart Rs 10 crore for the mechanisation of scavenging last year, the process is yet to be completed. The process is only in the initial stage and discussions are on, according to Suchitwa Mission officials.