Hyderabad: Mechanised scavenging is limited mostly to urban areas, whereas it remains manual in rural areas, and nobody is noticing, said Union ministry of social justice and empowerment officials at a workshop in the city on Monday.
Experts state that respective municipalities should survey and list equipment available for mechanisation and what is needed to ensure worker safety in the pursuit of mechanisation.
In many municipalities, manual scavengers are given a bottle of whisky and a small amount of money to do manual scavenging instead of providing them protective gear and masks. In villages people descend into sewage without safety measures and just a ‘chaddi’ and a ‘rope’, risking their lives. The concerned civic body bears the responsibility to prevent manual scavenging at individual level, private contractor level or municipality level.
Manual scavenging is prohibited. According to the Manual Scavenging Act, 2013, “No person, local authority or agency shall engage or employ either directly or indirectly, a manual scavenger, and every person so engaged or employed shall stand discharged immediately from any obligation, express or implied to do manual scavenging.”
Whoever scavenges manually is also liable for punishment, namely imprisonment and a fine.
There was a need for the legislative intervention and ministry officials said they were trying to bring in amendments to do away with loopholes.
About 882 manual scavengers lost their lives in manual scavenging during the past two decades, and families of only half were paid the court-mandated `10 lakh compensation.
Tamil Nadu had 233 deaths (215 got compensation) and Gujarat 160 (only 55 got compensation). Telangana state had four deaths and AP 23.
Ministry representatives asked the states’ municipal corporations why compensation was not paid to some families. The states passed the buck to the social welfare department....