Manual Scavenging

News:The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Centre on the number of deaths of manual scavengers and for not providing them with protective gear.


About Manual scavenging:

  • Manual scavenging is the practice of manually cleaning,carrying, disposing of, or handling human excreta.
  • The International Labour Organization(ILO) distinguishes three forms of manual scavenging: a) Removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, b) Cleaning septic tanks, and c) Cleaning gutters and sewers.

Issues faced by manual scavengers:

  • Caste-based discrimination
  • Poor Knowledge of existing laws
  • Lack of occupational and safety measures
  • Health issues
  • Low pay

Government efforts to end Manual Scavenging:

  • Government of India had enacted the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,1993.
  • The act prohibited the employment of manual scavengers for manually cleaning dry latrines and also the construction of dry toilets (that do not operate with a flush).
  • In 2013,this was followed by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which was wider in scope.
  • The act intends to eliminate unsanitary latrines and prohibit employment as manual scavengers.It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
  • In 2014,the Supreme Court has also made it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewerage work since 1993 and provide ₹10 lakh each as compensation to their families.