Rajkumar and his brother Mukesh from Etah in Western Uttar Pradesh have been employed by the Delhi Jal Board through a contractor to clean drains.
Despite ‘manual scavenging’ coming under severe criticism from all quarters and the Prime Minister terming it a ‘repulsive practice’, it continues unabated even in the heart of Delhi.
Recently, the camera captured men going down the drain in Bhogal, South Central Delhi, and that too without any protective gear.
The duo belongs to the Valmiki community and earns upto Rs 200 a day for cleaning 20 drains on an average. Rajkumar, who used to work in a factory prior to this, was forced to join the profession after he lost his fingers to a machine and the owners shut down the factory and disappeared overnight.
With the delayed Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012, expected to see the light of day in the near future, there maybe some hope for the millions employed in the inhuman profession. While the Bill widens the scope of the definition of ‘manual scavenging’, it does not provide any concrete rehabilitation plan for erstwhile scavengers, especially the rehabilitation of already liberated manual scavengers, say activists.