The government on Tuesday said it would soon undertake a survey of the number of manual scavenger in the country so that they could get benefits of various schemes meant for them.

Replying to a calling attention notice on need to take adequate safety measures to protect the lives of ‘safai karmacharis' by Arjun Ram Meghwal in the Lok Sabha, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said the Centre had asked the States to give details about the manual scavengers.

“I share the pain expressed in the House over the plight of manual scavengers,” he said adding that claims were made about existence of 13 lakh manual scavengers but the information received from the States showed that the figure was 1.16 lakh.

The Centre had started a scheme for rehabilitation of such people but the States said only 80,000 were entitled to it as the rest had either died or gone missing or were defaulters, the Minister said, describing it as a “strange” situation.

“The survey is to ascertain facts as to who needs rehabilitation.” Local bodies, elected representatives and NGOs could be involved in the exercise.

He said his Ministry had requested Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to implement the Employees Compensation Act, which only six States had done, so that manual scavengers could also benefit.

Earlier, when some members tried to disrupt the proceedings, Speaker Meira Kumar made it clear that she would not allow any disruptions as an issue regarding the lowest rung of society was being discussed.

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