Visakhapatnam: Despite various guidelines and laws prohibiting it, manual scavenging still exists in the state.
The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, framed in 2013, intends to eliminate certain types of latrines, prohibit employment as manual scavengers and hazardous manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks and ensure the rehabilitation of people working as manual scavengers.
Though the Sanitation Workers Association in the city refused to give the details of the people engaged to manually clean drains, a survey carried out by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment revealed that there are about 3,455 insanitary toilets in the GVMC limits, which are manually cleaned.
The situation in rural areas is no different. The workers are directed to work by their superiors off the record who can easily flout the rules and regulations. The Indian Railways after finding it difficult to follow the law had asked for exemption but was refused by the Apex court.
About 250 workers manually clean toilets in the Waltair division, according to various workers associations. Besides, others are employed on contract for the job. The railway station has sped up the construction of washable apron on its various platforms. Work on Platform No. 4 is going on. The washable apron system helps to clean the tracks easily using water jets.
The act covers workers involved in cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Those engaging workers to manually clean the sewers without safety precautions should be punished. The deaths of workers due to asphyxiation after inhaling toxic gases when entering sewers, tanks and open drains for cleaning are recorded as deaths caused by negligence or accidental deaths.
According to reports, 1,268 such deaths have been recorded between March 2014 and March 2016. In Vizag, about five persons died in the last four years while cleaning the sewerage system....