Data: Manual scavenging exists in India despite being outlawed in 2013

A manual scavenger cleaning a sewer | File photo  

Despite a 2013 law prohibiting employment of manual scavengers, a government survey identified 54,130 people engaged in this job as of July 2019. The figure is understated as the survey was carried out only in areas where “there are reasons to believe the existence of manual scavengers”. The survey was conducted in 170 districts in 18 States.

814 deaths of manual scavengers engaged in cleaning sewers and septic tanks have been recorded in India from 1993 to July 2019 in 20 States and UTs. Of these 20 States, details of compensation received by the family of the deceased is available for only 11 States. This indicates the possibility of underreporting in the number of manual scavengers identified and the number of deaths.

Official count

When the number of service latrines* in which night soil was removed by the people in a State in 2011 is plotted against the number of manual scavengers identified as of July 2019, Uttar Pradesh is among the most imbalanced States. It has a very high number of service latrines and a relatively low number of manual scavengers.

10 States and UTs including Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Meghalaya and Delhi did not report any manual scavengers despite having a significant number of service latrines.

Service latrines and identified manual scavengers in India


Sewer deaths

Tamil Nadu had registered 206 deaths of manual scavengers who were cleaning sewers and septic tanks between 1993 and July 2019. This was the highest among all States. Gujarat recorded 156 such deaths, the second highest. 15 States and UTs have not reported data on deaths.

State wise split of sewer deaths

image/svg+xml Tamil Nadu (206) Uttar Pradesh (78) Deaths 0 206 Karnataka (73) Gujarat (156)

Compensation rate

The chart plots the share of families of victims (who died cleaning sewers between 2014 and 2018) who received compensation against those whose claims are pending. Kerala performed the worst in terms of % compensation as families of 83% of the victims were not compensated. 2% of victims’ families were not compensated in Tamil Nadu. All victims’ families in Punjab, Gujarat and Telangana received compensation.

Status of compensation

*A service latrine is a type of toilet which is waterless and from which human excrement is collected from buckets, cesspools and privies manually

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 10:49:08 AM |

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