The Communist Party of India has suggested that the government call a meeting of Chief Ministers, especially of those States where manual scavenging is prevalent, to work on measures to eradicate it.

Reminding the government of its January 2011 announcement to conduct a fresh survey in the country to identify locations of dry latrines and the number of manual scavengers in the country, party MP D. Raja said, “it is a shame to note that even after 13 months the process has not begun.''

Taking part in a debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address in the Rajya Sabha recently, Mr. Raja said the country had five Prime Ministers since 1993 and all of them promised to eradicate the inhuman and illegal practice of manual scavenging.

“Our current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced in June, 2011 that within six months, i.e. by the end of the year 2011 manual scavenging will be eradicated from the country…the government of India should reply,'' he said.

The President had said the government would introduce a new Bill in Parliament for eliminating both manual scavenging and insanitary latrines. She also said provision would be made for proper rehabilitation of manual scavengers in alternative occupations so that they were able to lead a life of dignity.

“What are we telling the people? The government goes on giving promises, and breaking promises. I am talking about the most downtrodden, the most deprived section of our society, the manual scavengers. Everybody agrees it is a shame to have manual scavenging in the 21{+s}{+t}century. India claims that it is an emerging power. No, it is not an emerging power; it has already emerged as a power. But this is the condition of these people,” he said.

Referring to the practice, he said Railways were the single biggest employer of manual scavengers and must initiate immediately a time-bound programme to end this practice.