New law for manual scavengers in consultation mode next week

In order to discuss the new law The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, and to provide inputs in framing model rules for effective implementation of the law, a consultation has been organised on September 25 in the Capital.

The consultation that is expected to bring together activists, liberated manual scavengers, Supreme Court lawyers, former judges, policy makers, human rights organisations and, UN agencies, aims to enhance the participation of various stakeholders in struggle of total eradication of the manual scavenging practice.

The National Consultation on New Legislation: New Hope and New Challenges is being organised by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan.

Early this month, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed the Bill exactly a year after it was introduced by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Though the step was welcomed, reservations were also voiced from some quarters. The provisions regarding rehabilitation were not promising, as they are geared towards economic rehabilitation aspects, said the Abhiyan. Community people were demanding for socio-economic, political and educational rehabilitation for their comprehensive rehabilitation and holistic empowerment which they feel is entirely missing from the law. Besides, the rehabilitation package and estimated budget is not clearly spelt out.

However, the organisation said that they believe that adoption of the law by Parliament is the first step. Implementation, inclusion of remaining provisions in the rules, budgetary allocations, education about the new law in the community and larger society are the next steps. “Importantly, mobilisation of the community across the nation to use this law as a weapon for their freedom and life with dignity is crucial,” said Ashif of Jan Sahas.

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