The scheme is a joint venture of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
- It aims to achieve outcomes like:
- Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India
- No sanitation workers come in direct contact with human faecal matter
- All Sewer and Septic tank sanitation workers have access to alternative livelihoods
- The Ministry has shortlisted type of machineries and core equipments required for maintenance works, safety gear for Safai Mitras.
What is Manual Scavenging?
- Manual scavenging is the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewers or septic tanks.
- India banned the practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR).
- The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.
- The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a “dehumanizing practice,” and cites a need to “correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.”
Why is it still prevalent in India?
- Low awareness: Manual scavenging is mostly done by the marginalized section of the society and they are generally not aware about their rights.
- Enforcement issues: The lack of enforcement of the Act and exploitation of unskilled labourers are the reasons why the practice is still prevalent in India.
- High cost of automated: The Mumbai civic body charges anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 to clean septic tanks.
- Cheaper availability: The unskilled labourers, meanwhile, are much cheaper to hire and contractors illegally employ them at a daily wage of Rs 300-500.
- Caste dynamics: Caste hierarchy still exists and it reinforces the caste’s relation with occupation. Almost all the manual scavengers belong to lower castes.
- Regular surveys and social audits must be conducted against the involvement of manual scavengers by public and local authorities.
- There must be proper identification and capacity building of manual scavengers for alternate sources of livelihood.
- Creating awareness about the legal protection of manual scavengers is necessary.
READ MORE: Daily Prelims Booster
READ MORE: Daily News Analysis