The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Karnataka Chief Secretary, returnable in four weeks, on reports that around 8,000 people still earn their living by taking up the inhuman job of clearing human wastes in Karnataka though the manual scavenging was banned by the government.

The Commission, which suo motu took cognizance of the media reports on the subject, observed that if they were true then it raised a serious issue of violations of human rights of the people engaged in the manual scavenging.

The Chief Secretary had been asked to specify the districts where manual scavenging existed and steps taken by the government for its eradication, after the adoption of “The employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993”, by Karnataka in 1997.

Media reports said manual scavenging was banned in Karnataka in 1970 but despite that about 8,000 persons had taken up the job for their livelihood and this practice existed more in Kennedy Lances in Kolar Gold Field. The manual scavengers were considered untouchables and had little chance of getting other jobs, the reports said.

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