Today we’re going to learn about an Inhumane practice that is still prevailing in India and some other countries of the world. It’s all about ‘Manual Scavenging’.

*What is Manual Scavenging?

Manual Scavenging is the process of manually cleaning,handling,disposing or carrying human and animal excreta from *Dry toilets, **Insanitary latrines, Sewers or pits.

*Dry toilets are the toilets which operate without flushing of water after use unlike Flush toilets.

**Insanitary latrine is a latrine which requires the human excreta to be cleaned or handled manually or even a pit into which the excreta is discharged.

*Manual Scavenging @Past:
The practice of Manual Scavenging in India dates back to ancient times. According to contents of some sacred scriptures and some other literature , scavenging is done by several castes from the beginning of Civilization itself. Bhangis(Chuhra) which were also known as Balmiki or Valmiki claim that they were the decesdents of Valmiki the Composer of The Epic Ramayana which were traditionally served as Manual Scavengers for Our Indian kings and even for Mughals. And after that British organized municipalities in India and built roads,bridges and Public toilets. These Bhangis were employed as Manual Scavengers to clear the Fecal Sludge(mixture of Human Excreta and water as well as solid wastes).
Manual cleaning of Toilets also took place in Europe. The excreta is called as Night Soil and in *Tudor England the workers were called as Gong Farmers.

*Tudor is a Time period between 1485 and 1603 in England and also Wales.*

*Manual [email protected]:

Manual Scavenging in India is linked to the caste system so called lower castes are expected to do this work. It is the Dalits who work as sanitation workers as Manual Scavengers,Garbage cleaners and also as sweepers of road. It was estimated that out of 6 million households of Dalits 40 to 60 percent of them are engaged in these activities. According to the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 about 1,80,657 households within India are engaged in Manual Scavenging for their Livelihood. Then Maharashtra tops the list by having 63,713 households having engaged in Manual Scavenging which is followed by Madhya Pradesh,Uttar Pradesh,Tripura and Karnataka. It is still prevailing in some parts of India which are without proper sewage management and poor fecal sludge management practices.

*Why the people can’t get out of this Manual Scavenging?
1.At present so many have left the Manual Scavenging as the employment but the discrimination still lingers on.
2.The liberated Manual Scavengers will face this problem and they can’t secure their alternative livelihoods.
3.And unavailability of the opportunities also create a condition to them to continue the Scavenging.

*Government’s Intervention:
1.The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Prohibition of construction of Dry Latrines Act,1993.
•This act prohibited the employment of Manual Scavengers for the purpose of cleaning of Dry Latrines and also the construction of Dry Toilets.
•State Government has the powers to punish the violators of this law get imprisoned for an year
and fine upto Thousand rupees.

2.The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act,2013.

•This is the act which is followed by the first one and it got into force from the year 2013.

•It has a very wider scope and importance than the first law which seeks the urgency of Prohibition on the employment as Manual Scavengers and providing the rehabilitation to the identified Manual Scavengers then.

°Key Features of this Act:

•Prohibits the construction or maintenance of Insanitary latrines.

•Prohibits the engagement of Manual Scavengers directly or indirectly and the violations can result in an imprisonment of about 1-2 years and fine up to 50,000-1,00,000 Indian Rupees.

•Prohibits a person from hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.

•The Offences or violations under this act are *cognizable and non-bailable.

•And there is an urgent call to identify the Manual Scavengers across the country in both rural and urban areas in a time bounded framework.

*Cognizable means an offence in which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court.

The Implementing authority is local authority, cantonment board and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction. They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.

•The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities. Offences under the Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable and may be tried summarily.

••Under this act One time Cash Assistance, Capital Subsidy(a subsidy that can be used for capital expenditure),*Skill development,etc were provided.

*Through this skill development the Manual Scavengers can learn a skill which increases their chance of survival in this running world.

•A Supreme court order which is released in March,2014 makes it mandatory for the government to identify the ones who died while doing sewage works since 1993 and to provide them with a compensation of 10 lakh rupees to the respective families.

*Why it is in News?
1.On January 8,2020 during a meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act,2013 seek a review on the implementation of the law.
2.It is because the compensation to the sewer deaths has been paid by many states but states like Maharashtra and Gujarat are lagging behind.
3.Since 1993,a total of 926 deaths has been identified related to the sanitary works but 172 families out them had reported that they didn’t recieve the compensation.

*Present Statistics:
1.According to *National Commission of Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a total of 53,598 people, of which 29,923 were in Uttar Pradesh alone, had been identified as engaged in manual scavenging after surveys in 2013 and 2018.
2.The highest deaths has been reported in Tamil Nadu but paid compensation to all but 7 cases out of 234 cases.
3. Gujarat has the highest number of case where the amount was not paid or the payment was not confirmed (48 cases) which is followed by Maharashtra.

*•The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) was constituted on 12th August 1994 as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament ,National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.

•The act The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993  lapsed in February 2004.

•The Commission is acting as a non-statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment whose tenure is extended from time to time through Government Resolutions.

*Reasons for the prevalence of Manual Scavenging:
1.Despite the most stringent laws made under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act,2013.It continues in parts of India due the Governmental Indifference(lack of interest or concern) and Caste discrimination.
2.It is also because the continued presence of the Insanitary latrines (about 2.6 lakhs) that require to be handled manually according to Safai Karamchari Andolan.(a movement which aims to completely eradicate the Manual Scavenging from India)
3.The largest violator of the act is The Railways being the implementing authority it recruits Manual Scavengers for cleaning the faeces which were disposed from the Trains directly onto the tracks.
4.This is also because the State governments were not keen to abolish the Insanitary latrines,and collect the correct information of the Manual Scavengers.

*Steps to be taken for the empowerment of Manual Scavengers and abolishment of Manual Scavenging:
1.Abolishment of Dry Latrines.
2.And the introduction of eco friendly and water sealed toilets with underground built two chambers out of one stores the faeces which converts it into compost which can be after used for agricultural works and other chamber diverts the urine and used water to home garden.
3.The life of Scavengers can be improved especially of children and can be improved by giving education and women by skill development like sewing,craft work or embroidery work etc.

4.In 2018,the Indian Railways has introduced the on train treatment systems for toilet waste.But some other measures like mechanised on track cleaning system should be developed.

5.We can also take Malaysia as the example for prohibition of Manual Scavenging because it had prohibited this inhumane act 60 years ago itself!.They had introduced the development of technologies in Sewerage Industry and there is movement of non-mechanical systems to more mechanical and automated systems. New and improved equipment has also been continuously introduced due to technological advancements.

6.Mexico adopted a ecological sanitation model which closes the loop on sewage management. Ecological sanitation model means is a waste management model that treats human excreta, wash water and urine as agricultural resources that can be safely collected, stored and treated.

7.America resolved this problem by the use of advanced machinery but there are proper tunnels and equipment in place.

8.Machinery like Bandicoot which was a robot used in cleaning the man holes and septic tanks which was introduced in GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) which replaces Manual Scavengers is a very good idea to abolish the Manual Scavenging and increase the efficiency and reduce the cleaning time.